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Water safety at the beach

Find out which beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, information about safety flags and tides, and how to become a lifeguard.

RNLI Lifeguard Patrols Summer 2023


  • 1 April - 17 September, 7 days, 10.00am - 6.00pm


  • 1 April - 17 September, 7 days, 10.00am - 6.00pm

Port Eynon/Horton

  • 29 April - 3 September, 7 days, 10.00am - 6.00pm

Three Cliffs Bay:

  • Weekends and Bank Holidays Only 27 May - 1 July

  • Daily 1 July - 3  September

Lifeguards will be on patrol between the red and yellow flags from 10.00am to 6.00pm every day, and will be available for advice if people are unsure about tides or bathing conditions.

For more information on RNLI lifeguards and patrols visit the RNLI website (opens new window).

On the beach

  • always go to a beach patrolled by lifeguards
  • make sure you read any warning notices
  • bathe in between the red and yellow flags - this area is patrolled by lifeguards
  • never enter the water if the red flag is flying - red means danger!
  • ask a lifeguard about conditions if you are unsure whether to bathe
  • don't swim alone  
  • no inflatables - they easily get swept out to sea by wind or current
  • be careful when playing in rock pools - the rocks can be very slippery

Water quality

Our patrolled beaches, with the exception of Swansea Bay, have been awarded Blue Flag status based on their water quality and cleanliness, as well as meeting other criteria.

Make sure you check the tide times before you visit as the tide can come in fast and you may get cut off. If you are not sure ask the lifeguard.

You can find out tide times, weather and surfing conditions, and even see for yourself on the web cam at Gowerlive surf webcams (opens new window).

Water safety code for outdoors

1. Spot the dangers

These may include:

  • very cold temperatures
  • hidden currents
  • fast flowing water, beware of locks and weirs
  • deep water, it can be difficult to estimate the depth of water
  • there may be hidden rubbish or debris under the surface that can trap, snag or cut
  • it can be difficult to get out; banks can be steep, slimy and crumble away
  • no lifeguards, most outdoors waterways do not have lifeguards
  • water pollution may make you ill

2. Take safety advice

Where possible, only go swimming on a beach where there is a lifeguard present. When this is not possible, look out for flags (see below) or notices which will tell you what to do. (Source: RoSPA)

3. Go together

Never go swimming, fishing or boating alone.

4. Learn how to help

If you see someone in difficulty, tell a lifeguard if there is one nearby. Phone 999 or 112, if you are at the beach ask for the coastguard, otherwise ask for the police.

Never jump in the water yourself to help someone.


Look out for the following flags on the beach which will tell you where it's safe to swim and where not to swim:

  • Red and yellow flags: The area between these two flags will be patrolled by lifeguards. These are the safe areas to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables.
  • Black and white chequered flags: The area between these two flags will be patrolled by lifeguards but are for use of watercraft such as surfboards and kayaks. Never swim or bodyboard in these areas.
  • Red flags: These flags indicate danger. DO NOT enter the water under any circumstances if you see red flags flying.
  • Orange windsocks: These windsocks will tell you what the offshore wind conditions are. NEVER use an inflatable when the windsock is flying.

Becoming a lifeguard

A beach lifeguard's duties include:

  • first response in emergency situations
  • giving general beach related and safety advice
  • helping to find lost children or adults
  • general supervision of the beach
  • patrolling bathing areas
  • advising on dog bylaws

If you are interested in becoming a lifeguard then check out our pool lifeguard courses or visit the RNLI website (opens new window).

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