Top tips for staying safe on European beaches

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Golden sands, the glittering Mediterranean sea and nothing but time. The perfect combination for a perfect holiday, wouldn’t you say?

However, this seemingly blissful scenario can quickly change for the worse if you don’t take the proper precautions. Every year, 35,000-40,000 people die from drowning in Europe, according to the International Life Saving Federation of Europe (ILSE). Water safety at the beach should be a top priority for both locals and visitors alike.

To ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable time, we’ve put together our top tips for looking after yourself on Europe’s beaches.

1. Look for the blue flag

Photo credit Getty/Jorg Greuel

An initiative started by the Federation for Environmental Education, the Blue Flag programme looks to set the standard for clean waters and safety, as well as education across water areas in 46 countries. Blue Flag sites must have safety measures in place at all times, and are subject to spot checks throughout the year.

2. Think before you swim

Death by accidental drowning can happen for a number of reasons. The ILSE lists ‘ignorance, disregard or misjudgement of danger’ as a top factor in drowning deaths, suggesting our judgement can play a big role in our swimming safety. So, before you dive off that cliff in Croatia, or swim in that secluded beach on Cyprus, consider what dangers may lie hidden in the current.

3. Don’t go swimming unaccompanied or unsupervised

Other top drowning risks include a lack of supervision, as well as an inability to cope in difficult situations. By swimming with a partner, you can help to keep each other in check, and ensure you aren’t drifting too far from shore.

If you are travelling solo, aim to only swim in lifeguard protected areas – especially if you’re not a confident swimmer – and never go paddling off alone where no one can see you.

As noted by the ILSE, “Even those who believe themselves to be good swimmers can find their ability severely impaired in cold and fast moving water.” Always exercise caution when swimming, particularly in foreign beaches where you are unfamiliar with the current or other underwater obstacles.

4. Staying sun safe

Photo credit Getty/Davidf

The World Health Organisation Europe advises that you limit the amount of time that you spend in the sun at midday, as well as seek shade when the sun is at it’s most powerful. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 as protective clothing (yes, that means sleeves) as well as sunglasses and a hat.While a beach holiday in the south of France might seem like a great opportunity to get that sun-kissed glow, you shouldn’t let your tanning aspirations get you into danger. The ‘heat-waves” that have swept Europe in recent years means protecting yourself from the sun is more important than ever.

5. Protecting your valuables

Photo credit Getty/Image Source

If the beach provides lockers or changing shacks, it could also be worthwhile hiring one out to safely store wallets, phones and keys while you enjoy your surrounds.While you may be an honourable citizen, there are sadly many people out there who see unattended valuables as a prime opportunity for theft. Leave any non-essential valuables safely locked up in your accommodation, and only take what you absolutely have to.

Those who are travelling in a group should always have someone stay behind to guard your belongings. However, this isn’t always possible for solo travellers. If you’re worried about leaving your phone on the sand while you swim, you can always take it with you if you have a waterproof case – just be sure you attach it to a lanyard or strap so that your device doesn’t get carried away by the current.

You can also try this fun hack for storing your things, as shown on Suzelle DIY – just remember you leave your valuables unattended at your own risk. For more tips on keeping your stuff safe on the beach, check out our blog post here!

6. Hydrate, don’t salivate

Bring plenty of your own water to the beach, and you can save yourself from dehydration as well as save your back pocket from having to buy costly bottled water from a local store.Spending time in the sun, especially if you’re running around and working up a sweat can quickly leave you dehydrated. There’s nothing worse than driving hours out to a beautiful beach in Spain before having to cut your time short because you feel like you might faint from a lack of water.

If you’re heading over to Europe, don’t leave anything to chance. Give yourself pace of mind and make sure you’re covered by travel insurance before you go.


TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.


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