Manilva beachWHEN you pack your sunscreen and towel to head off to the beach, you’re rarely considering whether you or your child will be one of Europe’s 5,000 yearly drowning fatalities.

It cannot be denied that for a handful of months each year, Spain’s beach safety is exemplary with all the lifeguards, flags, bells and whistles.

But, as the Olive Press discovered this week, much of the year leaves swimmers fending for themselves.

Even though the sun shines 320 out of 365 days a year on the costas, lifeguards will be on duty for only a quarter of those days.

So, although the placid Mediterranean may seem calm, hardy holidaymakers should always keep their wits about them.

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