How to Stay Safe at the Beach

Although beaches are fun places they can also be dangerous, and you may have heard some stories in the news lately about people getting into difficulties when they’re in or by the sea. Our science editor Sam Gouldson, who lives on the Sussex coast, shares her tips for beach safety.

Go to a Beach with Lifeguards

lifeguard sign


Many beaches have lifeguards, who are trained to keep people safe whether they’re on the beach or in the sea. You can find out where these beaches are by searching the Good Beach Guide (for the UK), Irish Water Safety (for Ireland) or the ILSE (for Europe). Find out more about the RNLI Lifeguards in UK here.

Pay Attention to the Flags

Beach Safety

Beaches in the UK use a flag system to inform you of possible hazards. If there are red and yellow flags this means that there are lifeguards in that area and that it’s safe to swim.

A black and white chequered flag means that the area is for people using paddleboards, surfboards and kayaks, and that you should not swim there.

A red flag means that the area is dangerous and you should not go into the water for any reason. There may also be information boards and signs at the beach, and you should read these thoroughly.

Stay With Your Group

beach safety

If you stick with your family or friends you can all keep an eye on each other. Find somewhere distinctive to use as a base while you’re at the beach and agree where you’ll meet up if you get separated.

If there are younger children in your group make sure they’re with a responsible adult or older teen. Some beaches have a wristband scheme so that children can be easily identified and their group members contacted if they wander off; if the beach you’re visiting has one of these schemes, take part.

Learn About the Sea

beach safety

Different beaches have different conditions. The tide can come in much faster at one beach than at another, and you should always keep an eye on the water and which direction it’s flowing in. You can look up tide tables online so that you’re aware of when the tide is likely to turn and don’t get cut off from the shore.

Some beaches have dangerous features called rip tides, which are strong currents that can quickly sweep you out to sea without warning. Always check with the beach’s lifeguards if there are any areas that you should avoid – many beaches have a noticeboard to inform visitors about the current conditions.

Waves can also be dangerous, depending on how fast the water is moving and how steeply the beach shelves. Some beaches will have sharp rocks or other hazards that may not be clearly visible from the shore. Again, check the lifeguard’s advice before you go into the water.

If the weather is cool, consider wearing a protective suit to keep you warm in the water, as cold water shock can affect your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.

Be Careful When Using Inflatables


Inflatable toys and beds are designed to be used in swimming pools, not on open water. But if you do use them make sure there is an adult with you and that you’re in the lifeguarded area between the red and yellow flags.

You should stay near the shore and never use inflatables when there are big waves or an windsock is flying; these are signs that the wind is too strong.

Know What to Do If You Get Into Trouble

A photo by Pierre-Olivier Bourgeois.

If you find yourself in difficulties, stay calm. If the water is shallow enough for you to stand, wade through the water instead of trying to swim in it. Raise at least one hand in the air and shout loudly and clearly for help, and don’t try to swim against the tide because you’ll just tire yourself out.

If you have a board or an inflatable hold onto it; not only will it help you stay afloat it will also make you easier for rescuers to spot.

If you see someone who is in trouble in the water, stay calm. Alert the lifeguards, or if you can’t see them call the emergency services on 999 (in the UK) or 112 (anywhere in Europe).

Stay Safe in the Sun


Although the sea can be dangerous, so too can the sun. Always use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and re-apply frequently.

Keep your head and shoulders covered, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and stay in the shade at the hottest part of the day (usually between 11am and 3pm).

For more information read “Why is too much sun bad for you and how does sunscreen work?”.


Home, Health & Style, Sports

Move Over Girls, and Make Space for Ballet for Boys


When did people begin to dance?  No one knows for sure, but dancing has been around for as long as there have been people!

Dancing provides people with a wonderful tool to express their emotions and thoughts.  They can communicate to others what they are feeling and their state of mind.  Dancing connect people.  All around the world, there is dance.  Over many centuries, every country and culture has developed typical dances of its own.  They are part of peoples’ traditions.

Aside from these cultural dances, dance developed for performance.

People have always passed on their old dances from generation to generation and always enjoyed dancing them.  In addition there were also modifications, changes,  new steps and other dance moves.  More dances evolved.

We will, in this series of articles, look at the different styles of dance and find out how you can get involved.  We shall start with BALLET and ask the question ‘Is ballet for boys too?’


What is ballet?

Ballet Class


Ballet was created in the courts of Italian princes about 500 years old.  A royal dance school was later founded in France by Louis XIV in 1661. 

Many positive benefits are associated with learning the art of ballet.  Besides learning the traditional techniques of ballet, ballet lessons can also nurture a positive self image.  Ballet teaches skill, grace, poise, self-discipline and confidence.  If your dream is to become a dancer, you must practice a lot in order to master the many challenging poses and steps of ballet.  You will begin by learning the rules and traditional techniques of ballet.


Why should I learn Ballet?




Ballet lessons have three major benefits.  First of all, a dancer expands their vocabulary through learning the French names of the steps and hearing the musical terms.  Secondly, they develop their musicality and rhythm through coordinating their bodies to the music. A third benefit is that memorising new steps and dances improves the memory of young ballet students. 

So, Ballet makes you smart!


Dance offers a greater range of motion, coordination, endurance and strength than most other physical activities.  If you have an interest in any kind of future in dance, you’ll need ballet because that’s where you learn the basics.  But even if dance isn’t the ultimate goal, ballet lessons improve posture, flexibility, coordination, strength and grace.  They also provide an opportunity for you to be active regardless of the weather outdoors. 

So, Ballet makes you fit and strong!  This IS looking promising.


Ballet lessons can also be good for a kid’s development by improving their social skills.  It’s been suggested that ballet classes encourage kids to form new friendships. Dancers also get to interact with positive role models in their dance teachers.  In ballet class, you need to follow directions closely and discipline yourself to not run around the space of the dance studio!  Your confidence will grow as you develop new skills and perform in front of an audience.  My dancers love to perform for their friends and family.  After working hard all year, my students feel a sense of accomplishment while performing on stage in awesome costumes. 

So, Ballet can make you a more confident person!  What’s not to like?!


Is Ballet just for girls…?  No, definitely not!  More girls than boys do ballet, but the ballet that girls do is very different from ballet for men and boys.  Male ballet dancers have to be strong and athletic.  When scientists tested male ballet dancers against sportsmen, they found that the dancers were fitter and able to keep going for longer.  Lots of sports clubs invite Ballet teachers in sometimes to give the players a lesson!  It’s great for their balance, agility and core strength. 

So, Ballet is great for boys too! Sign me up.  



Naomi is an AISTD trained dance teacher, has been teaching since 1994. As well as a long career in dance schools, she has also been Head of Dance in a sixth form college. She runs a small, encouraging dance school offering classes for children and young adults in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Linedancing, as well as Dancing Hands which uses songs and signing to introduce Ballet to pre-school dancers. The school is based in Bassingbourn and Litlington, on the border of South Cambridgeshire and North Hertfordshire, UK.  Naomi has a particular love for working with children and young adults who have learning difficulties – dance is for everybody! Find out more on


Science, Nature and Tech

A Kid-Friendly Explanation of The Big Bang & An Amazing New Discovery by Scientists

kid-friendly explanation of Big Bang

Most scientists believe that the Universe began in a Big Bang around 14 billion years ago. The entire Universe was inside a bubble thousands of times smaller than a pinhead, and was hotter and denser than anything we can imagine.

When the explosion called the Big Bang happened, the Universe as we know it was born. In a fraction of a second, the Universe grew from smaller than a single atom to larger than a galaxy. It kept on growing, and is still expanding today.

Now researchers in America think they have found traces left in the sky that prove this that the Big Bang did really happen. It takes the form of a distinctive twist in the oldest light detectable with telescopes. These twists of light are called ‘gravitational waves’ – the effect is a little bit like how waves form on the surface when you drop a big stone in a pond. However, you also have to imagine that the Big Bang formed the pond itself.



The team leading the project, known as BICEP2, has been using a telescope at the South Pole to make detailed observations of a small patch of sky. The aim was to find evidence of ‘inflation’ – the idea that the cosmos grew rapidly in its first trillionth, or trillionth of a trillionth of a second – growing from something unimaginably small to something about the size of a marble.

The leader of the team, Prof John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said:


“This is opening a window on what we believe to be a new regime of physics – the physics of what happened in the first unbelievably tiny fraction of a second in the Universe.”


Over the coming years, scientists will work hard to investigate every aspect of this discovery. Other experiments will be carried out to see if they can replicate the findings of the American team. If this research is confirmed, it will be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our time.


Dr Sarah Bearchell drew our attention to this video, which explains the concept of gravity and gravitational waves with the help of a towel, an apple and a ping pong ball. Check it out