Fun on the Beach

The beach is a wonderful place to be. Here some advice and tips to help you have fun and stay safe.

Just a reminder that for many years HBNW patrollers have assisted in ensuring a safer beach during the months of December and January through their Beach Safety Project which started in 2008. Patrollers wear HBNW vests and carry HBNW radios. They can call for support and any required response via Watchcon using these HBNW radios. Feel free to reach out to them at any time.

Here some advice and tips to help you have fun and stay safe.

Lifeguarded Beaches

Respect the water and visit a lifeguarded beach. On a lifeguarded beach there are trained professionals to help keep you safe – they’ll be on hand if something goes wrong. It’s easy to search for lifeguarded beaches to make sure you and your family have a safe and fun trip to the coast. We are lucky to have a lifeguarded beach here in Hout Bay. Lifeguards are on duty on a daily basis.

Get to know the beach flags and signs

When you arrive at the beach the first thing you might see is a sign giving you all the information about the beach you’re visiting. This includes important safety info on the hazards specific to the area.

Red and white prohibition sign

Do not enter the water at any time. Swimming and other water-related activities are not permitted.

Red and yellow flag

Lifeguarded area. Safest area to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables.

Black and white chequered flag

For surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. Launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard here.

Red flag

Danger! Never go in the water under any circumstances when the red flag is flying.

Orange windsock

Indicates offshore or strong wind conditions. Never use inflatables when the windsock is flying.

Understand the sea

Understand rip currents. Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly take you from the shallows out of your depth. More detail.

Understand waves. Waves are great fun, but they can be dangerous. They have different characteristics depending on the beach and conditions - understanding how they work will keep you safer. More detail.

Understand cold water shock. Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement. More detail.


Blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept out. If you do use them at the beach, then ensure children are closely supervised, kept near the shore and only used between the red and yellow beach flags.

Bodyboarding is fun for all the family, but every year our lifeguards rescue thousands of people who get caught out. The most important advice is to wear a leash and always stay with your board as it will keep you above the water, even if you feel you are drifting out to sea. Your board will keep you afloat and make you much easier to spot in the water.

How to call for help when in the water

If you get into difficulty it’s tempting to try and swim to safety but you should always stay with your kit as it will keep you afloat and make you easier to find in an emergency. Use the international distress signal of hand waving and shouting for help.

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