SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Q. HOW DO I KNOW IF A BEACH IS SAFE TO SWIM ON? RESPECT In reality all beaches are dangerous (to varying degrees) and should all be treated with respect. The beach and near shore environment is an ever changing one unlike the consistency of an artificial pool. Combinations of tides, back currents (see rip currents), breaking waves, cold water, soft sands and varying water depths present a challenge to even the most competent of swimmers and every caution must be taken when bathing in the sea. BLUE FLAG Some beaches will be awarded European Blue Flag status from time to time to denote a particular level of cleanliness and safety including one or more Beach Guards during daylight hours (not necessarily a Life Guard).
A Blue Flag and/or Beach Guards do not lessen the risks of swimming in the sea and care must still be taken. Bathing is unsafe and not recommended at both White Park Bay and Runkerry Strand, although Runkerry is highly popular with board surfers. Note: A specially designed Beach Safety Leaflet has been produced by Coleraine Borough Council to accompany this Guide. Q. WHY IS A RIP CURRENT LIFE THREATENING? A rip current (rip) is a strong naturally occurring, seaward movement of water within the surf zone. Sometimes referred to as undercurrents or back currents, every beach has them to varying degrees of strength and predictability. Some are
barely perceivable, while others are very evident and potentially lifethreatening. Rips are particularly potent in large surf conditions and can also occur near river mouths, estuaries and headlands as well as around piers and other man-made structures. SMALL RIVER As the sea breaks on a sandy shore some water is absorbed by the sand and the remainder runs back towards the sea which in itself can often be enough to pull the bather off their feet. This â€˜back flowâ€™ is strongest on beaches with steep profiles. Rips form when the returning water is channelled into a concentrated flow like a small river which extends out to sea for a varying distance, thus creating a particular danger to bathers. J.A. C.B.C.