RNLI urges beachgoers to take extra care at the coast this Bank Holiday
With the Bank Holiday weekend approaching the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is calling on anyone planning to visit the south west to put safety first and take heed of the charity’s advice.
Following the tragic incidents on the Cornish coast last week and around the country, the charity which saves lives at sea is urging everyone to take extra care by the coast.
Steve Instance, RNLI Senior Lifeguard Manager, says:
‘We are expecting beaches across the south west to be very busy this Bank Holiday weekend as people make the most of the last few weeks of the school holidays. We want people to enjoy our beautiful coastline, but make sure they do it safely.
‘Conditions can change quickly at the beach, so it is really important to respect the water and take extra care when visiting the coast.
‘If you want to swim or bathe in the sea we would advise you do so at a lifeguarded beach. The red and yellow flags indicate the safest areas to swim and lifeguards keep watch over this area, so if you do get into difficulty raise your arm and call for help.
‘RNLI lifeguards are always happy to answer any questions or advise of any risks, including where any rip currents may be, which can catch out even the most experienced swimmers.
‘Check tide times, tide height and weather conditions for the day. If you intend to take part in activities on the water, such as kayaking, always wear a floatation device and carry a means of communication so you can raise the alarm if you find yourself in trouble.
‘If you spot anyone in difficulty at the coast ring 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’
This weekend extra teams will be in place at various locations around the coast to provide safety advice to help keep members of the public safe.
With high spring tides and big swells over the past week RNLI lifeguards have been busy keeping beachgoers safe in the south west.
On Friday (19 August) lifeguards rescued a teenager who was swept out to sea in rough conditions at Portreath.
As the swell quickly increased to 8ft with strong winds, RNLI lifeguards made the decision to red flag the beach to indicate the water was not safe to swim or bathe in.
Whilst patrolling the beach advising people of the dangerous conditions, RNLI lifeguard Nick Laws spotted a boy in trouble after he was pulled out to sea in a rip current.
Nick grabbed a nearby rescue board and quickly made his way into the water, closely followed by RNLI lifeguard Harry Llewelyn. Nick managed to reach the casualty and pull him on to his board, but they were both hit by a large dumping wave which washed them off the board.
Waiting for a safe gap in the swell, Harry moved in on his rescue board and grabbed the casualty before paddling him safely back to the shore. The teenager was shaken but unharmed and did not need any further treatment.
Andy Thomas, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, said:
‘This rescue was a difficult one in very dangerous conditions. Nick is one of our newest and youngest recruits, he did a great job working with Harry and they both demonstrated great courage. If the lifeguards had not got to the casualty so quickly the outcome could have been very different.’
If you get caught in a rip current:
• stay calm – don’t panic
• if you can stand, wade don’t swim
• keep hold of your board or inflatable to help you float
• raise your hand and shout for help
• never try to swim directly against the rip or you’ll get exhausted
• swim parallel to the beach until free of the rip, then make for shore
For more safety advice visit www.rnli.org.uk/respectthewater
Note to editors
Video footage of the rescue can be found here: http://rnli.org/Pages/Video-Details.aspx?VideoItemID=5Oja1GAe
Video credit: Justin Leatherland
Attached photo shows RNLI lifeguards Harry Llewelyn (l) and Nick Laws who rescued the teenager at Portreath. Credit RNLI
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.