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Photo: Anthony Glyn Jones and Trevor Lewis with a new beach safety sign

Last month beaches around Barmouth, Wales, had new safety signs installed to remind and warn visitors of the dangers that lurk in the waters. It has been two years since two teenagers tragically died during a day trip to the seaside – these signs hope to prevent further tragedies.

In August 2016, Yahye Omar Mohamed, 14, and Waseem Muflahi, 15, visited the Barmouth to enjoy the beautiful Welsh coast for their first swim in the sea. However, their visit ended in tragedy when they both experienced difficulties in the water. The teens were believed to have been fit, as Yahye was aspiring to be a sprinter, but they were not strong swimmers. After going too far out, the strong current carried them out of their depth and they were unable to return to shore. They struggled for some time before perishing in the sea.

Barmouth harbourmaster Anthony Glyn Jones said of the incident: “This is a classic example of two active, healthy boys going swimming and not realising the dangers. They were caught in an undertow and drowned.”

To help raise awareness of the dangers of the waters around Barmouth, Trevor Lewis, Barmouth RNLI’s community safety officer, worked with Gwynedd County Council Maritime and Country Parks Department to set up seven health and safety signs at the entrances to the major beaches in the area.

The signs provide advice and information for beach visitors to explain the hazards that are often present due to tide and weather conditions. Rip tides, strong undercurrents and tidal cut off on sand banks are common dangers in the area that few people are aware of.

Trevor Lewis also explained: “Heavy surf can result in undercurrents that can quickly carry bathers out of their depth. It is recommended that visitors seek local advice from beach wardens, the Harbour Master or the RNLI.

“Children using inflatables are particularly at risk, especially when used during an off-shore wind that could sweep them well out to sea before the lifeboat can reach them.

“It is also important to avoid entering the water in the harbour area due to dangerously strong currents and soft mud.”

Barmouth RNLI Coxswain Peter Davies added: “It has been a concern for some time that visitors to the area are unaware of the potential dangers of entering the water at certain stages of the tide and I welcome any initiative that encourages people to use the coastline safely.”

While it is impossible to ensure that visitors read the signs, it is hoped that more safety signs will help to spread word of the dangers along the coastline. While tragedies are rare, they really should never happen.

If you wish to raise awareness of the dangers of the beaches in your area, speak with the council and suggest creating some custom health and safety signs that can be displayed in beach car parks and at the entrances to beaches and coves. If a sign can save a single life it is worth every penny.