40 children a day get lost at the beach

Summary

Lifeguards have warned visitors to take care in the sea and to keep a close eye on their children as hot weather sees crowds flock to the coast

‘The sea is not a swimming pool’

Forty children a day have become separated from their parents at the beach this month, according to figures from the coastal lifeguards.

The recent spell of hot weather has seen an increase in visitors to the coast, bringing with it an increase in the number of children losing contact with their parents while playing in the sea or on the beach. In the first two weeks of July, almost 600 children were separated from their families, compared to 162 in the same period last year. The most incidents were reported in Blankenberge and Ostend.

Lifeguards recommend parents give their children safety bracelets with their name and telephone number on, to make it easier for children to be returned if they wander out of their sight.

Meanwhile in Blankenberge, a team of lifeguards were required to rescue four young children from the sea on Sunday, after they ignored warnings that the area wasn’t safe to swim or paddle in.

“It might be ok to let a child of 10 or 11 who can swim well go swimming in the pool alone, but the sea is not a swimming pool,” chief lifeguard Tom Cocle told De Standaard.

“We can’t have all our team working in dangerous areas, because the visitors who are swimming in the safe zones also deserve our attention. These children were lucky; it was just coincidence that so many lifeguards were on site. This could have been a lot more serious, fatal even.”

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Flemish coast

The Flemish coast is a 67-kilometre sandy stretch on the North Sea. With its wide beaches, quiet dunes and polders, it’s Flanders’ most-visited tourist attraction.
Day-trippers - A two-hour drive at worst from most Flemish cities, the coast especially draws day tourists during the summer.
Kusttram - Connecting Knokke all the way to De Panne, the “Coast Tram” is the staple means of transportation along the coast. It’s the longest tramline in the world.
Theater Aan Zee - Every summer, a 10-day music and theatre festival is organised in and around Ostend.
10

coast municipalities

67

kilometres long

3

million visitors annually