Child Safety Scotland

The Coast

Father Child

There are a number of hazards to be aware of at the beach.

Tides - the sea reaches its highest level on the shore twice a day which can result in getting cut off whilst exploring. Always check tide times and stay vigilant.

Waves can have different intensity and energy levels which can impact upon a swimmer. Know your limits and never put yourself or others in dangerous waves.

Rip Currents are fast moving and have a high potential to put swimmers at risk by taking them far out to sea. They can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Debris floating
  • Waves breaking larger out on both sides of the rip
  • Foam on the surface
  • Discoloured water usually brown
  • A rippled appearance when the rest of water is generally calm.

For further information on Rip Currents please visit:

Estuaries are partly closed coastal waters with a number of rivers flowing into it. They are extremely hazardous as a result of the fast moving water and currents. Swimming should normally be avoided.

Advice at the Beach

  • Be prepared and check the tide times here: 
  • Never swim alone
  • Supervise children at all times
  • Try to swim at lifeguarded beaches
  • Avoid alcohol and swimming
  • Swim at a depth comfortable and parallel to the beach
  • Pay attention to signage, flags and warnings
  • Educate your children on the dangers of coastal waters

Key Flag Signs

Remember these key flags:

  • Red and Yellow flag - safe to swim in the patrolled area
  • Red - no swimming allowed
  • Black and white checked flags - no swimming but surfers and windsurfers can still use the water

Beach Safety Flags

In an Emergency

Phone 999 and ask for the coastguard.