Reg Evaluation of risk factor in beaches

TitleReg Evaluation of risk factor in beaches
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsValeiras, AAJ
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers03-05

Introduction: The practice of aquatics activities is a social phenomenon that has increase notably due to the higher free time and leisure of the actual society. Beside to practice time also it had been, in the last ten years, an increase in the number of participants and activities in the aquatic environment, especially in spring and summer, due to favourable climatic conditions. Against the benefits of the sun, beach, and aquatics activities; the scientific evidence shows that the practice of this type of activities increase the possibilities to suffer an accident in this environment (Brewster, 1995; Graver, 2004; Grenfell, 2002; YMCA, 2001). Accident is understood as an important damage for the life of a human being, that implicate injuries which unable or which has a high economic cost and which would be prevented. It is widely recognised in the scientific enclosure that the fundamental principle to reduce this type of accidents is the prevention (Brewster, 1995).

The signs and labels of information are a prevention way to realize an education “in situ” to the public. These are considered as a extremely value measure, due to a lot of bathers are not familiarized with the surroundings, or that because they come from place where there are not beaches or because the characteristics of the beaches are different and, possibly, the only information way of the particular dangerous of the beach that they are visiting are these labels (Brewster, 1995). For it, they must show clear the principal advices, recommendations, and dangerous of the batch zones; however, how are determinate the dangerous of the beach?

To analyze all these environment elements of a beach that expose the public to a dangerous situations or an damage (Short, 2001) and that determinate the dangerous risk was design a registration sheet that classify and recollect the variables that can affect to the risk of an aquatic space (Brewster, 1995, Graver, 2004; Short, 2001) and that affect increasing it or reducing it:

  • Beach Morphology: This category involves all the aspects related with morphology and beach physical factors. This category is divided in three points: dry zone, water zone, and common criteria.
  • Beach Equipment: In this category are involved all the points in relation with the infrastructure (access, parking, supply of water, water closed…), and the utilities (bar, sailing clubs, tourist information…).
  • Lifeguarding service: Here are included all the aspects in relation with the life guarding service of the beach. Its analysis is divided in three blocks: human resources, material resources, and planification and evacuation.
  • Occasional aspects: In this point we group several aspects based on weather conditions and beachgoers activities.

As there are not consensus in the reviewed bibliography about the importance of each of these variables, in relation to their effect in the increase or reduction of the dangerous, we plan a valuation of these factors to determinate of the dangerous that can have a determinate beach in function of all cited criteria before.

Methods: The valuation of the risk factors of the beach was done with a survey administrate to expert at international and Spanish level in this area. The condition of expert was established for having the University grade of PhD. and trajectory of specialist in Life guarding or the accreditation of three years, as minimum, of experience as Life guarding coordination.

The evaluation sheet qualified, with a number of one to five, the blocks and variables indicating their incidence on the risk of the beach. The sample of the present study was 31 experts (seven from international scope and 24 from national scope). The statistic analysis done is descriptive (average, frequencies, and percentages of each one of the variables and blocks), letting us identify the important and/or percentage of risk of each variable.

Results: The order of importance, in relation to the risk, of the four big compartments are: lifeguarding service (31.82%), beach Morphology (28.79%), occasional aspects (24.24%), and Beach Equipment (15.15%). In life guarding service has higher importance to minimize the risk than the human resources (36.84%) than material resources and evacuation plans (31.58%). With respect to beach morphology, the higher importance of the risk is detected in the water zone (48.48%), followed by dry zone (27.27%), and other common criteria (24.24%). In relation to occasional aspects, the higher risk are determinate by the affluence and the realize activities (59.26%), besides the water condition (40.74%). Finally, the beach equipment presents the lesser incidence in the beach risk having a higher repercussion in the service offers (56.25%) in relation to the infrastructures (43.75%).

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  • Brewster, B. C. (1995). The United States Lifesaving Association Manual of Open Water Lifesaving. Huntington Beach, California: Precinte Hall.
  • Graver, J. (2004). Aquatic Rescue and Safety. How to recognize, respond to and prevent water-related injuries. EEUU: Human Kinetics.
  • Short, A. D. (2001). Beaches of the South Australian Coast and Kangaroo Island. A guide to their nature, characteristics, surf and safety. Sydney: Univerity of Sydney.
  • YMCA. (2001). On the Guard II. EEUU: Human Kinetics.