Lifeguard patrols end on all south west beaches for 2017 after a busy season.
With the end of the RNLI’s lifeguard service for this year the charity is issuing advice to help people visiting the coast keep themselves and their families safe.
Yesterday (Sunday 29 October) lifeguards lowered their flags and packed their equipment away for the final time of the year as the RNLI lifeguard season officially ended in the south west.
RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager James Millidge said: ‘It has been a very busy season for our lifeguards; we have seen huge numbers of people coming to beaches in the south west. The majority of our lifeguards’ work is preventative so as well as the rescues and incidents they were involved in, they will have stopped many more potentially dangerous incidents before they occurred. Our lifeguards have worked really hard and have once again done a fantastic job of keeping people safe at the coast this summer.’
Each year RNLI lifeguards deal with a whole range of things, from sea rescues, to first aid incidents and lost children. Among the rescues carried out by lifeguards in Devon and Cornwall this season are two kayakers who were rescued after capsizing during an ebbing spring tide and two young girls saved from drowning after they got into difficulties in a rip current.
RNLI lifeguards patrol over 240 beaches across the UK and Channel Islands. In 2016, they aided 20,538 people and saved 127 lives. Around half the people who die at the coast slip, trip or fall into the water. They never intend to get wet.
Community Safety Partner Steve Instance said: ‘With the lifeguard season at an end people visiting the coast can help keep themselves safe by knowing their limits and not taking risks. For beachgoers it’s important they take note of the safety signage at the entrance to the beach, going with a friend or telling someone on the shore where they are going, and always being aware of the conditions and their own capabilities in the water.
‘People walking on the coast should check the weather forecast and tide times before setting out and carry a means of communication. The changing seasons can mean bigger swells and more unpredictable rip currents in the water so people should take extra care. Even from the shore large waves can sweep you off your feet and drag you out to sea.’
Anyone in difficulty in the water should try not to panic or fight against any currents, hold onto anything buoyant they have, call for help and raise their hand to attract attention and try to keep their head above water.
As part of the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign the charity advises that you do not enter the water if you see someone in trouble, but call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. If you have something that floats, throw it to them. A host of information and advice on various aspects of water safety is available at RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.
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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 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.