Beach Lifeguarding Theory Information

This section of the site holds information, handouts and similar from Nick's beach course, currently running on every second Tuesday evening.


2nd Week, Radio Comms

This session was a bit hap-hazard, as Nick had been forcibly dragged to the pub a few hours previously. What was intended to be taught goes as follows:


There are 3 you need to know about. They are:

Lifeguard Radio Procedure

This is taken from the Beach Lifeguarding manual, but includes the common adaptions that are used in the Poole Bay are to speed up communications.


There's a bit of a trick to speaking in a "radio friendly" manner. If you don't do this, you tend to come over garbled / hard to hear. The things to try for are:

Call Signs

Every radio in use needs a unique call sign to identify it. It has a long form (used when initiating a call), and a short form (used once communication is established, to speed things up). For beach units, the long names are of the form:

[club] lifeguard [sign]
eg "Boscombe Lifeguard Tango"

For communications between two stations from the same club, the short form is just [sign]. For communications between stations from different clubs, the short for is [club] [sign], eg:

Boscombe Base this is Bournemouth Base

When setting off on patrol, you will be told what call sign to use. In most cases, you'll also have a tag with the call sign on it put into the radio bag. Whatever happens, you need to remember your call sign, so you know when people are calling you.

Over and Out

At the end of your message, saying over means you're expecting a response. Saying out means the communication is completed. You must say one of over or out (depending on if you're expecting a response or not). You never say both!

Starting a Call

Before you can send your message, you need to ensure the other party is listening. To facilitate this, there's a standard procedure for how to call someone up. It runs like:

  1. Called Station Long Form, this is My Station Long Form, My Station Long Form, over
  2. Your Station Short Form, this is Called Station Short Form, (go ahead) over
  3. (Called Station Short Form) this is My Station Short Form ......
  1. Bournemouth Lifeguard Base, this is Boscombe Lifeguard Zulu, Boscombe Lifeguard Zulu over
  2. Boscombe Zulu this is Bournemouth Base, go ahead over
  3. Bournemouth Base this is Boscombe Zulu, our eta at the pier is 10 minutes, over
  4. This is Bournemouth Base, all copied, out

Radio Check

Done shortly after setting off on partrol (normally at least 200m away from base), to verify radio is correctly working. Also done if you suspect issues with your radio.

During a radio check, you want an assessment of two things, signal strength and signal clarity. As such, you report these two things. While are a large number of different measures, the only ones you really need to know are:
Strength: Loud or Good or Weak or Fading
Clarity:Clear or Readable or Unreadable or Distorted
(In order of decreasing signal). A nice, clear and loud signal gets "loud and clear". A somewhat dodgy signal, but which is still understandable typically gets "weak but readable". Anything worse than that and you need to go back to base for a radio change....

Also, radio checking is a two way process, so once you've been told about your signal, you let the other party know about theirs. A typical radio check call would be:

  1. Boscombe Lifeguard Base, this is Boscombe Lifeguard Papa, Boscombe Lifeguard Papa over
  2. Papa this is Base, go ahead over
  3. Base this is Papa, radio check please over
  4. This is Base, reading you Loud and Clear
  5. This is Papa, likewise, out

And in the event of a dodgy radio (someone forgot to charge it or something...)

  1. Boscombe Lifeguard Base, this is Boscombe Lifeguard Papa, Boscombe Lifeguard Papa over
  2. Papa this is Base, go ahead over
  3. Base this is Papa, radio check please over
  4. This is Base, reading you weak but readable, over
  5. This is Papa, reading you loud but distorted, returning to base for radio change, over
  6. This is Base, will prepare one for you, over
  7. This is Papa, thanks for that, out

4th Week, Other Kinds Of Comms

In fourth week, we all turned up significantly more sober. Firslty, we finished of and practiced radio procedure (see above). After that, we moved onto flags, whistles and other methods of communications. Finally, we made a start on talking about hazards, which we'll finish in 6th week.

Phonetic Alphabet

If you need to spell something out, or otherwise make it clear, you use the Phonetic Alphabet. The words have been chosen to give maximum clarity and difference between each other.

A - Alpha B - Bravo C - Charlie D - Delta
E - Echo F - Foxtrot G - Golf H - Hotel
I - India J - Juliet K - Kilo L - Lima
M - Mike N - November O - Oscar P - Papa
Q - Quebec R - Romeo S - Sierra T - Tango
U - Uniform V - Victor W - Whiskey X - X-ray
Y - Yankee Z - Zulu . - decimal (point) . - (full) stop
0 - Zero 1 - Wun (One) 2 - Two 3 - Tree (Three)
4 - Fower (Four) 5 - Five 6 - Six 7 - Seven
8 - Ait (Eight) 9 - Niner (Nine)    

Beach Flags

What ones to look out for, and what they mean.

There are many flags that you'll find at the beach will tell you important things. This section should list the main ones.

Green Green - Water should be safe for swimming, but take care all the same.
Yellow Yellow - Caution, water getting dangerous. Swim with great care.
Red Red - Danger, no swimming, conditions too dangerous.
Red And
  Yellow Red and Yellow (1, 2 or 3) - Lifeguard flag. 1 => Lifeguard position at the flag, 2 => Lifeguards patrolling between flags, 3=> Lifeguards patrolling between the front two and located at the third
Black And
  White Black And White (2) - Surfing between the two flags, no swimming in that area.
Blue Blue - EU Blue Flag Beach - water quality is some of the best in Europe.

Lifeguard Hand/Flag Signals

Pointing and waving at each other, but amazingly also sending information...

Whistle Blasts

Attracting different people's attention, and signalling things.

The normal whistle system is:
1 short blast - Attract the attention of a member of public
2 short blasts - Attract the attention of another lifeguard
3 short blasts - Indicate a lifeguard is taking emergency action.

5th Week, Bandaging and Knots

Not strictly from a beach training session, but it's needed for the beach stuff and it came up in normal training, so it's gone here.


(Images from Rathfarnham Girl Guides and Manawatu Speleological Group)

Reef Knot: Right over left, then left over right. Ropes of the same thickness.

Reef Knot

Sheet Bend: Make a loop with the thick rope. Thread the thin one down, round the back, up and under itself. Ropes of different thinkness.

Sheet Bend

Clove Hitch: Loop round to one side, then loop round to the other, then go under the cross. Used to tie a rope off to a pole.

Clove Hitch

Fisherman's Knot: Tie a simple knot, in the direction the rope was going in. Then repeat for the other rope. Joins two equal thickness ropes, even when wet.
Double Fisherman's Knot: As with the fishermans knot, except you wrap the tieing rope round twice, making the knot twice as large.

Fishermans Knot Double Fishermans Knot

Round Turn and 2 Half Hitches: Wrap round the bar twice. Loop round the main rope, and bring between the end and the bar. Repeat (these are the half hitches). Ties a rope to a pole.

Round Turn and 2 Half Hitches

Alpine Butteryfly: Wrap around your hand twice, then pull the middle loop under the top one. Then, take it over the back one, and under all 3 loops. Used for putting a loop in a straight rope.

Alpine Butterfly

Triangular Bandages

To follow...

6th Week, Hazards

Classified into several groups, such as Man Made, Natural, People etc.

More info coming soon....

8th Week, Recap

In the 8th week session, we went back over hazard identification and radio procedures, to ensure everyone was happy with them. We didn't really cover an new material though.