Beach safety

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


Conditions at the coast and beach can change rapidly and can be very dangerous for a number of reasons.

People want to feel safe when they are using the beach or on the coast. We provide a range of safety services on beaches in Cornwall and along the coastline.

There is always a need for those using the coastline to do safely and considerately.

Tides

If you are going to the beach always make sure you are aware of the tides. The sea can move quickly and if not careful you could get cut off by the tide. You can view tide times on the BBC website.

Beach Safety Signs

Beach safety signs are used to inform beach users about:

  • hazards on the beach
  • prohibited activities
  • beach lifeguard services
  • other appropriate local information such as bathing water quality

Please always read and take note of any signs on the beach you are visiting.

Public Rescue Equipment

Public Rescue Equipment is positioned on many of the beaches in Cornwall and along some stretches of the coastline. This equipment includes life rings and torpedo tubes. These are attached to a length of rope and housed in units that provide information about dangers in the area.  If you have concerns about a piece of public rescue equipment being damaged or missing, please report this to us on 0300 1234 202 or by email to countryside@cormacltd.co.uk.

Beach Lifeguarding

The RNLI now patrol over 200 beaches around the UK and provide a beach lifeguarding service. This is not only on Council owned beaches in Cornwall but also on a number of beaches in the County that are privately owned.

The main lifeguard season runs from May to September. However, this does vary from beach to beach.

Lifeguard service on specific beaches

Beach Name Season start date Season end date Late season cover
Beach View 15 May 26 September None
Black Rock 15 May 26 September None
Booby's Bay 15 May 26 September None
Carbis Bay 10 July 5 September None
Chapel Porth 15 May 26 September None
Constantine 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Crackington Haven 10 July 5 September None
Crantock 15 May 26 September None
Crooklets 15 May 26 September None
Fistral None None Full time until end of October half-term week
Freathy 24 July 5 September None
Godrevy 15 May 26 September None
Great Western 15 May 26 September None
Gunwalloe 10 July 5 September None
Gwenver 15 May 26 September None
Gwithian North 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Gwithian South 15 May 26 September None
Gyllyngvase 15 May 26 September None
Harlyn 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Hayle Towans 1 May 26 September None
Holywell Bay 15 May 26 September None
Kennack 15 May 26 September None
Lusty Glaze 10 July 5 September None
Marazion 10 July 5 September None
Mawgan Porth 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Mexico Towans 15 May 26 September None
Northcott 10 July 05 September None
Perran Sands 15 May 26 September None
Perranporth None None Full time until end of October half-term week
Perranuthnoe 10 July 5 September None
Poldhu Cove 15 May 26 September None
Polurrian Cove 10 July 5 September None
Polzeath 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Porth  15 May 26 September None
Porthcothan 15 May 26 September None
Porthcurno 15 May 26 September None
Porthkidney 10 July 5 September None
Porthleven 10 July 5 September None
Porthmeor  None None Full time until end of October half-term week
Porthminster 15 May 26 September None
Porthtowan 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Portreath 15 May 26 September None
Praa Sands 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Sandymouth 15 May 26 September None
Seaton 15 May 26 September None
Sennen None None Full time until end of October half-term week
Sharrow 1 May 26 September None
South Fistral 10 July 5 September None
St. Agnes 15 May 26 September None
Summerleaze 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Tolcarne 15 May 26 September None
Towan 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Trebarwith 15 May 26 September None
Tregantle 1 May 26 September None
Tregonhawke 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Trevone 15 May 26 September None
Treyarnon 1 May 26 September None
Upton Towans 15 May 26 September None
Watergate 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week
Widemouth 1 May 26 September October weekends plus October half-term week

 

Find my nearest Lifeguarded Beach

For more detailed information on beach safety please view the Beach Safety Tips below.

If you’re heading to the beach this summer, spare a thought for safety. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging anyone planning a trip to the beach and, particularly, anyone thinking of going into the water, to choose a lifeguarded beach and swim in the area between the red and yellow flags.

Around two-thirds of people in the UK go to the seaside at least once a year – perhaps for summer holidays or day trips. The RNLI lifeguards now patrol over 200 beaches around the UK and in 2012 responded to 14,519 incidents and assisted 16,414 people.  

To help the beach-going public stay safe, the lifesaving charity is offering some essential beach safety tips to make sure people remember their summer holidays for the right reason.

  • Always swim at a lifeguarded beach
  • Swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Never swim alone
  • Know your beach safety flags
  • Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas
  • If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help
  • If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
  • Find out about the beach you’re going to before you visit
  • Check tide times before you go
  • Read and obey local hazard signs

RNLI Beach Safety Manager, Steve Wills, says: ‘You’re 500 times less likely to drown on a lifeguarded beach so we always recommend that people choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, where the lifeguards can see them.

‘We want people to enjoy their time at the beach, but it’s important to put safety first. By following the advice the RNLI is offering, we hope people will stay safe at the beach so they remember their summer for the right reasons.

‘RNLI lifeguards are specially-trained and a great deal of their work is preventative – they give advice and warn people of potential dangers, to prevent incidents happening in the first place.

‘Those who can’t make it to a lifeguarded beach should find out about their chosen beach before they go, read the safety signs to make themselves aware of the local hazards. Most importantly, if they see someone in trouble, they should call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard – but should not enter the water themselves.’

You can find out about RNLI lifeguard cover on the Visit Cornwall website and the RNLI website.

A copy of the RNLI's guide to beach safety, On The Beach, is packed full of advice on how to stay safe at the beach. It is available free of charge by emailing beachsafety@rnli.org.uk or calling 0800 328 0600. Further practical advice and tips on how to stay safe can be found at the RNLI’s website.

You can find weever fish all around the British coast but only in sandy areas. They are usually near the low water mark where the water is warmer and shallower. The weever fish encountered on the beach is known as the Lesser Weever fish. Although its sting can pack a considerable punch it is relatively small, measuring up to 14cm long. The weever fish is an ambush predator. they bury themselves in the sand leaving only their head and back exposed. It does this to keep as inconspicuous as possible. This is in order to surprise and eat any small fish or shrimp that venture too close.

It is unlikely that when visiting the beach that you will spot a weever fish. However, you will know you have found one if you are unfortunate enough to tread on one as it has poisonous spines. These spines are a defence mechanism as the fish is vulnerable to predators when it is partially buried. The poisonous spines keep these predators at bay.

What to do if you are stung by a weever fish

The sting of a weever fish can be very painful. At first it feels like a sharp stab but this pain can increase quickly. The pain can last for up to 24 hours. It is therefore important to treat a sting quickly with hot water. You should immerse the affected area in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated) for 30-90 minutes. However, be careful not to burn your skin. Hot water helps breakdown the poison. It also increases blood flow to the sting causing natural cleansing and healing. You should seek medical advice if you have any concerns following a weever fish sting.

Is it possible to protect yourself from being stung?

To avoid the chance of being stung it is advisable to wear beach shoes or wetsuit boots when in the sea at low water. This will provide a barrier between the poisonous spines and your foot.

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