RNLI lifeguards to resume full time Summer patrol this Saturday
RNLI lifeguards will commence full time Summer patrol on 11 beaches in Northern Ireland this weekend.
Following a busy period of intensive training in preparation for the new season, the lifeguards will be keeping visitors safe on eight beaches along the Causeway Coast and three in County Down.
The beaches include Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Ballycastle, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.
From this Saturday 24 June, the RNLI will take up full time daily duty on all beaches continuing to Sunday 3 September when weekend duty will then resume on selected beaches throughout September.
Lifeguards will be on the beach daily between 11am and 7pm on the Causeway Coast and between 10am and 6pm in County Down.
As the good weather continues, RNLI lifeguard supervisor Karl O’Neill is expecting a busy start to the season: ‘Pre-season preparations have went well and our lifeguards are ready and looking forward to getting back on the beaches and doing what they do best, providing beach safety advice to visitors and helping out anyone who might find themselves in difficulty either in the water or on the beach itself.
‘We would remind anyone planning a trip to the beach to be mindful that particularly at this stage in the season the water is still cold. Come dressed for the weather conditions to ensure your visit is both safe and enjoyable.’
The RNLI has been working closely with its colleagues in the Causeway Coast and Glens District Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to ensure the beaches and lifeguard units are ready and equipped and that lifeguard training and preparation has been carried out seamlessly and successfully.
One of the notable changes this year is a new and improved lifeguard unit at Portrush West which will provide the lifeguards with a much wider view of the beach.
Following a successful trial on Ballycastle Beach last year, the RNLI lifeguard service will continue on a permanent basis from this season forward.
The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to respect the water, check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.
If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
Last year, lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 235 incidents coming to the aid of 255 people. Incidents ranged from saving a life, carrying out a rescue, assisting a casualty, providing casualty care and minor first aid to being involved in searches, near misses and incidents involving missing and found people. The lifeguards also worked closely with their colleagues at Portrush, Newcastle and Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat stations.
RNLI lifeguards have already had a busy education season with one of the programmes, Swim Safe, teaching children how to stay safe in open water.
The free hour-long sessions for 7–14 year olds are run by qualified swimming teachers and RNLI beach lifeguards. The sessions are designed to be practical, interactive, educational and fun for children who can swim at least 25 metres.
Every child that participates receives 60 minutes of tuition, with the time split between land-based safety with a lifeguard and in-water tuition with a swimming teacher. Wetsuits, swimming hats and a free goody bag with t-shirt are all provided.
Sessions will be held at Groomsport Beach, from 17-21 July. Visit swimsafe.org.uk to book your place.
RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Jenny Thompson said: ‘The aim of the Swim Safe programme which has come to Northern Ireland for the first time this year, is to improve children’s swimming abilities and their confidence in the sea, which is a very different environment to a pool. We hope to equip children with valuable knowledge and skills so that they can have fun and enjoy the water safely.’
Notes to editor
The charity is asking people to visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater where they will find information on coastal hazards, how to keep themselves safe, and what to do should they someone else end up in trouble in the water. On social media search #RespectTheWater.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Nuala McAloon, RNLI Press Officer on 0876483547, email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Ireland on 00 353 87 1254 124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk
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.