New bid to improve sea safety

NEW signs unveiled today to warn beach users about the hazards on the shore could cut the number of unsightly notices on Felixstowe seafront.Residents have criticised the huge number of signs littering the seafront at the resort – with warnings against drops to the beach, powercraft, rocks, groynes, waves, currents and other hazards.

NEW signs unveiled today to warn beach users about the hazards on the shore could cut the number of unsightly notices on Felixstowe seafront.

Residents have criticised the huge number of signs littering the seafront at the resort - with warnings against drops to the beach, powercraft, rocks, groynes, waves, currents and other hazards.

But now lifeboat chiefs have developed new standard signs for the beach in a bid to cut the number of accidents and drownings.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution hopes the images will become the Green Cross Code of seaside safety.


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A spokesman said beach owners and managers would be encouraged to adopt the system to set a new national standard for warning people about hazards.

Currently there are no standard signs. Various owners, from local authorities to private landowners, make independent decisions about signs under their "duty of care" responsibilities.

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Steve Wills, RNLI beach safety manager, said: "Signage is often questioned after a drowning and is subsequently highlighted by coroners and others as a means to reduce risk in the future.

"Sometimes it is noted that there has been a lack of safety information or that the information that was provided was poor at educating those visiting the beach.

"RNLI research also notes that a high level of confusion exists among the general public in the way they interpret beach safety signs.

"The RNLI believes that the new signage standard will ensure that key beach safety information is simple to understand - by both adults and children - and is presented in a uniform manner."

Suffolk Coastal council has been carrying out a project to try to rationalise the number of signs on Felixstowe seafront, but not all of them are the council's responsibility. Residents have said the notices make the shore sound unfriendly to visitors and like a commando course.

Latest figures show there were 381 drownings in 2003 around Britain's coast, a drop of more than 10 per cent on the previous year.

WEBLINK: www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk

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