Beach safety and the beach patrol
Published: 07 May 2012 Modified: 25 March 2013
The beach resorts of Scheveningen and Kijkduin attract several million visitors per year who are unfamiliar with the dangers of the sea. The beach along the Hague coastline is approximately 11 km long. The inlet to the Scheveningen Harbour divides the coastline into the Noorderstrand (North Beach) and Zuiderstrand (South Beach). The so-called Delfland breakwater can be found along the entire Hague coast.
Swimmers should stay alert and steer clear of any rock barriers, or groynes, in the water. The rock barriers make the sea dangerous for swimmers because of undertow currents. While a number of the rock barriers were removed during the sand supplementation project, swimmers are advised to take a number of precautions. They should:
- not go too far into the sea (keeping the water at hip level)
- look at a fixed point on the beach to see if a current is carrying them down the beach and
- never go into the water alone.
The Municipality of The Hague uses a flag warning system at seven lifeguard and police posts along the beach. A red flag means ‘do not go into the sea’ while a yellow flag means ‘use caution in the water’. Large signs by the various beach entrances explain the dangers of the sea in four languages.
The beach restaurants and hotels also get a weekly e-mail with an overview of the expected swimming conditions for the coming days. They are requested to post this overview in a prominent place. Passengers on the Beach Express also get up-to-date information on swimming conditions at the stations and at tram stops. Roads leading to the coast have digital displays with beach information.
Beach safety falls under the auspices of The Hague Fire Brigade. The lifeguard posts are manned by the Haagse Vrijwillige Reddingsbrigade (Hague Volunteer Rescue Brigade) in cooperation with the coastal detachment of Politie Haaglanden (local police department).
The Hague Volunteer Rescue Brigade (HVRB) operates five lifeguard posts from Kijkduin to Scheveningen. Two posts are on the Noorderstrand: one by the Zwarte Pad and one by the Keizerstraat. The other three posts can be found on the Zuiderstrand by the Duivelandsestraat, at the Kijkduin boulevard and at the terminus loop of the Machiel Vrijenhoeklaan. The central command post of the HVRB is housed in the Scheveningen lighthouse.
More than 100 volunteer lifeguards keep a vigilant watch over the beach each day during the summer from mid-May to mid-September. On weekends during high season (June to September) all five posts are in operation. In addition one post is open on the Noorderstrand during school vacations in The Hague. Depending upon the number of available lifeguards and weather conditions, one post is also in operation on the Zuiderstrand during the school vacations.
Each year these volunteers rescue 100 to 150 people from drowning. They also provide information, administer first aid, take in 'lost' children and keep a watchful eye on bathers and swimmers.
Five beach posts
The five lifeguard posts of the HVRB consist of temporary shelters painted in orange and blue, found on the beach only during the summer months. The shelters have space to store life-saving equipment as well as an area for the lifeguards and a first-aid station. Each post has a terrain vehicle, a life boat and communication equipment (radios and portable telephones). The beach posts also have extra facilities for lost children.
The lifeguards work under the leadership of a post commander. There are anywhere from six to 16 lifeguards per post per day. The lifeguards wear a recognisable yellow and red beach uniform and are equipped with a life vest, a lifeline for pulling swimmers out of the water, an artificial respiration mask and a horn.
Important numbers in Scheveningen
Police Post (the Pier): 070 - 310 30 66
Police Post (Schuitenweg): 070 - 310 30 67
Hague Volunteer Rescue Brigade: 070 - 355 33 55
First Aid Post: 070 - 355 38 93
Up-to-date information about swim safety and general weather conditions for The Hague’s coast can be found on the website of the HVRB.