Lifeguard FAQs

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about our lifeguards.

Want to know more? See our lifeguards and beaches pages. For the latest information and advice, visit our beach safety page.

The RNLI aim to provide lifeguards on over 240 beaches this year. This will be done in a phased approach as is always the case. The first set of beaches will go on service at the start of the Easter holidays with the number of beaches increasing through the season until the peak school summer holidays when over 240 beaches are reached.

This will be subject to government guidelines allowing RNLI lifeguards to be on beaches, agreement from local authorities and landowners to provide the service and our assessment that lifeguards will be working in a safe environment. The RNLI will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and months.

Find your nearest lifeguarded beach

For beaches without RNLI lifeguard patrols, please follow and share our beach safety advice to keep you and your loved ones safe

Our lifeguards have a vital role in making sure visitors to the beach are aware of their surroundings, the potential dangers at the beach and providing a first-class lifesaving should anyone get into trouble. The welfare of our lifeguards is our priority.

The RNLI will follow Government guidance on protecting a beach lifeguard in line with social distancing restrictions. They will work to minimise risk when treating casualties, alongside precautions such as cleaning and disinfecting shared items and equipment, promoting good hygiene, understanding the signs and symptoms of the disease, not allowing public into the beach lifeguard facility unless critically necessary, maintaining a 2 metre distance from each other and members of the public, rostering lifeguards to avoid unnecessary cross contamination between affected staff, and reporting any suspected cases or contact with suspected cases.

We are confident that these measures will provide protection to our teams but will not put anyone in unnecessary risk or a situation in which they feel uncomfortable. Local authorities and landowners have also been working hard to ensure that the beach environment is safe for our lifeguards to provide an effective service.

Our lifeguards’ role is not to enforce rules, but to offer beach safety advice. We will be working closely with our colleagues in other services, along with local councils and landowners, to encourage the public to adhere to the government’s guidance at the time.

Our lifeguards have a vital role in making sure visitors to the beach are aware of their surroundings and any potential dangers. They will continue to do this where they can whilst observing social distancing measures. Our lifeguards have, and will always be, trained to the highest standard and are provided with the best equipment so that they are prepared for whatever they are faced with on the beach.

Find out more about how we usually run our lifeguard service each summer and how you can protect yourself and your family when our lifeguards can’t this summer.

Each year the RNLI’s lifeguard service builds in a phased approach, starting with a small number of beaches being patrolled from the Easter school holidays, increasing through the season until the peak school summer holidays when over 240 beaches are reached.

The RNLI’s lifeguard service will end on the majority of the 240 plus beaches in September when the school summer holidays end but there will be some that continue through September and up to the October half term holidays. This is part of a contractual agreement the RNLI has with each of the individual local authorities and landowners. 

For the latest information and advice, please visit our beach safety page.

The RNLI are fortunate to retain a number of experienced lifeguards who return to the role each season, however there is a natural turnover of staff in the seasonal role and a requirement to recruit around 500 new lifeguards each year.  These 500 new lifeguards will join the 1,000 returning lifeguards for the 2021 season on beaches across the UK and Channel Islands.

For beaches without RNLI lifeguard patrols, please follow and share our beach safety advice to keep you and your loved ones safe.

We receive a small amount from the appropriate local authorities and beach owners which helps to meet the cost of lifeguard wages, but the majority of funding for our lifeguard service is from voluntary contributions.

As a charity, our lifesaving service relies on the generosity of our supporters. Read more about how your support helps.

Lifeguards need to be physically on the beach during the patrolled hours, ready to respond instantly to emergencies and preventing many accidents through their vigilance and advice. Because of this requirement we cannot completely rely on volunteers to provide this coverage 7 days a week.

Learn more about the role of an RNLI lifeguard.

You can apply to be an RNLI lifeguard via our recruitment website.

Volunteering is a great way of gaining practical lifeguarding experience if you are newly qualified or putting your skills to good use if you are experienced and have some spare time.

Find out more about lifeguard volunteer opportunities on our recruitment website.

 

In 2020 RNLI lifeguards helped 25,172 people and saved 110 lives.

For more rescue statistics see our annual review and report.