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Beach Safety

Many beach operators throughout Europe currently apply for a Blue Flag to fly at their loca­tion, to show that their beach has reached agreed standards according to the criteria laid down by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) Blue Flag Campaign. However, this criteria involves mostly environmental issues and has not included enough aspects of safety.

The safety aspect is getting more and more relevant, because the drowning figures all over the world are much too high and do not decrease enough. Only in Europe 35,000 – 40 000 people loose their live by drowning every year.

During recent years the International Life Saving Federation of Europe (ILSE) and the FEE agreed a common approach to the Beach Management Criteria for the Blue Flag.

It was agreed that Risk Assessments must be carried out by appropriately trained personnel on all designated bathing areas.

The Rescue Commission of ILSE has therefore developed a strategic approach to Risk As­sessments, which will make a significant contribution to the safety of European bathing ar­eas. This model has been developed specifically for ILSE accredited Risk Assessors who will carry out the assessments on the designated bathing areas within the European region.

A properly implemented programme of Risk Assessment will assist greatly in the prevention of drowning fatalities and bathing related injuries. Such a programme will fix the necessary number of lifeguards and equipment, assist effective beach management and would there­fore be beneficial to Beach Managers, Lifeguards and Local Authorities/Beach Operators in general.

The Risk Assessment is divided into eight sections which cover the following areas:

  1. The area surveyed – The extent and description of the area surveyed
  2. Area usage and Activities – To include any areas to be zoned
  3. Emergency Service Access – Ease of access for emergency services
  4. Public Rescue Equipment – Any available rescue equipment for use by the public
  5. Signage – Availability of appropriate signage
  6. Safety Information Board – Availability and location of safety information
  7. Hazards and Risks – Identify, classify, remove or minimise
  8. Lifeguard Provision – Where necessary, appropriate provision, equipment, facilities and location

All risk assessors must have successfully undergone training and assessment courses con­ducted and approved by ILSE.

Risk Assessments should be part of the collaboration FEE/ILSE and should be included in the Blue Flag application process in future. Therefore some pilot projects shall be realised in the next year to find the right way of collaboration.

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