David Farrelly, Lifeguard, County Dublin
Strandings are a regular occurrence at beaches all over Ireland. When the tides goes out, sandbanks are revealed, often with just a small amount of water around them. These little islands are magnets for adults and children alike. Walkers can also be drawn to them. However, when the tide turns, what may have been only a few inches of water can quickly become a few metres. People find themselves cut off from shore and surrounded by water that is out of their depth.
How to avoid being stranded
- Learn about local tides and currents. If you’re unfamiliar with a beach always ask a lifeguard or a local about potential hazards.
- Know about high tides and low tides. They are affected by the cycle of the moon, which follows a consistent four-week pattern.
- Spring tides, unlike the name suggests, occur every two weeks. A spring tide means high tides are higher and low tides are lower than average. This can reveal normally hidden sandbanks. Be aware of them and exercise caution.
- Know that incoming tides can quickly backfill behind you and block your safe return to shore.
- Walkers should always check tides times before heading out.
- Be aware that higher high tides pose a greater risk of being washed into the sea. Walkers should stay away from edges.
- Bring a fully charged phone in a waterproof bag. If you get into trouble call 112 or 999 and ask the coastguard for assistance.