New Portobello Beach safety signs to be in place for summer months as wild swimming and water sports popularity on the rise
New location signs will be put up along Portobello Beach to help rescue teams move quickly to find anyone in danger at sea.
Visitors to the beach, which is about two miles long, do not always know the area well enough to give a clear reference point. This could add crucial seconds and minutes to finding someone in an emergency, as a floating object does not stay in the same place.
In a crisis situation, the beach signs would provide a fixed reference point for 999 call handlers and rescue teams to calculate surface drift rates, meaning a rescue helicopter or lifeboat can move quickly to a predicated location.
Police and HM Coastguard have established that, having looked at best practice throughout the UK, these signs would benefit Portobello Beach.
Portobello and Craigmillar councillor, Callum Laidlaw, said: “I very much welcome that the beach safety signs are now being implemented ahead of what’s likely to be a very busy summer season.
"With wild swimming and water sports increasing rapidly in popularity during Covid, the likelihood of ongoing restrictions to international travel and a number of new food and beverage outlets due to open post-pandemic, we can expect Porty to reach levels of popularity not seen since Sir Sean was a lifeguard.
"These new signs will help keep people safe and are especially valuable for visitors from further afield who may be unfamiliar with the names of roads that can help identify locations of those in trouble.”
Numbered location signs will be placed on each of the six groyne structures - a low wall built out from the coast into the sea to curb erosion and drifting - along the Portobello waterfront. Each sign will face into the land and be mounted on top of poles on the groynes.
The signs - which will be high visibility colours - are due to be introduced from March 29 and it will be evaluated later in the year.
They are not only useful for water emergencies but can easily help with a missing person on the beach, a medical emergency and any potential incidents.
Last summer, many people went to Portobello Beach to enjoy the sunshine and sea. It is anticipated this summer will also be busy, with the First Minister warning last month that holidays abroad are unlikely due to risks posed by the virus and new variants.
Inspector Colin Fordyce said: "Visitors to the beach may have little knowledge of the area and not knowing where you are on the long length can be a significant challenge if an emergency occurs. Being aware of your location can be key to providing a swift and successful outcome and the new signage has been designed to provide a simple and quick means for people to pass this information to emergency services.”
Police said that work has been ongoing with the beach signage at Portobello for some time and that this was disrupted due to the pandemic.
Inspector Fordyce added: “The signage project is only a part of an approach being conducted to keep people safe and Police Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council and HM Coastguard will continue to work closely together to ensure Portobello Beach is as safe as possible for visitors and locals alike."