Every year, summer attracts thousands of locals and foreigners to beaches in Malta and Gozo. Without any doubt these offer the clearest waters in which tempts anyone to spend several hours swimming, sunbathing or enjoying a barbeque with family and friends, away from stressful moments of work.
While enjoying this quality time on our beaches, we can be too relaxed to think about the negative things that could happen to our precious ones, but unfortunately, accidents can happen, especially if we don’t take the necessary precautions.
This is when the lifeguards on beaches can be of help. The primary role of a lifeguard is self-explanatory, that is to guard lives. For the past years, the Emergency Response and Rescue Corps (ERRC) has been busy providing this service to the community in Gozo and Comino. The role of the lifeguards is not only restricted to help swimmers when they need assistance, but also as an informative role, to help both local and foreign swimmers be better informed before they enter the water.
Such information is passed to the public by means of the flags that are always seen on top of the lifeguarding towers. Each colour describes the condition of the sea. A green flag signals safe sea conditions, a yellow flag shows potentially high surf or dangerous currents, a red flag means that the surf is high, dangerous currents, or both, and a double red flag, which the most serious of all flags, indicates that swimming is prohibited. Other flag that are used together which these already mentioned is the purple flag, which indicates that there could be dangerous marine life such as jellyfish.
Such information is also disseminated to the public through the number of signs on the beaches as well as through informative beach safety talks and practical sessions to children as part of the Skola Sajf activities. Exposing children to such information at such a young tender age, can help them be more aware of beach safety as adults.
The Emergency Response and Rescue Corps is providing lifeguarding service in Xlendi Bay, Marsalforn Bay, Ramla Bay and Hondoq Bay in Gozo, and Blue Lagoon and Santa Marija Bay in Comino. On a daily basis, through its Facebook page, the Emergency Response and Rescue Corps is uploading the status of each of the beaches under responsibility. This initiative will make the public more aware about the beach statues before going to the beach, from the comfort of their homes.
The lifeguarding service in Gozo and Comino is possible due to financial support from the Malta Tourist Authority. Support is also being provided by the Ministry for Gozo, Mgarr Marina, Transport Malta, Malta Police, Armed Forces of Malta, and the Civil Protection Department.