RNLI renews warnings about dangers at the coast following mass rescues

Lifeboats News Release

With hot weather set to return this week, and school holidays underway, the charity that saves lives at sea is urging people to take extra care after a busy week of rescues. Last week’s rescues included:

Female lifeguard watches over the beach in Summer


Bournemouth Lifeguard Surveys the Beeach
  • RNLI lifeguards rescued 32 people within a five-hour period from very strong rip currents at Croyde beach
  • Nine young people aged between 16 and 18 rescued by Salcombe lifeboat crew volunteers after getting into difficulty with an inflatable and bodyboards.

The lifesaving charity is reminding people to stay safe while enjoying the coast this summer and highlighting some key safety advice:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach where trained professionals can help keep you safe
  • If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float to live
  • If you see someone in trouble, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard

On Thursday 18 July, both Salcombe RNLI lifeboats were launched to a report of several swimmers in difficulty near Steeple Cove, Salcombe. The group had entered the water with an inflatable dinghy and four bodyboards. On arrival at the location, the nine casualties were found to be uninjured but very cold. They were taken aboard the all-weather boat and returned to the Salcombe Lifeboat Station.

At Croyde beach on Tuesday 16 July, the charity’s lifeguards rescued 32 in the space of a few hours. Twenty-nine people were rescued between 1.30pm and 3pm that day, and an additional three people were rescued at around 5.40pm. Sixteen of those rescued were bodyboarding, along with 10 swimmers and six surfers.

In the challenging conditions, lifeguards had to move the red and yellow flagged areas multiple times in order to keep the public safe and avoid closing the beach. Lifeguards conducted most of the rescues on rescue boards, and the rescue watercraft (RWC) was also in the water to assist with the rescues and encourage people to remain between the flags.

The RNLI’s Coastal Safety Manager, Ross Macleod, said: ‘Last week was an extremely busy one for our RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews. With schools now broken up for the summer, we’d urge everyone planning a day out to the beach to visit a lifeguarded beach where there are trained professionals to help keep you safe. We also advise people to swim between the red and yellow flags, where the water is safest.

‘Inflatables are designed for swimming pools and not for the sea, where they can easily be swept out. If you do use them at the beach, ensure you follow lifeguard’s advice and only use them between the red and yellow flags but never leave children unsupervised with them in the water. Never use them when the orange windsock is flying, as this indicates offshore winds which will blow inflatables out to sea.’

The RNLI offers the following advice, which could save your life, if you are caught in a rip:

- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted. Instead: lean back, extend your arms and legs and float until you can control your breathing.
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
- Always raise your hand and shout for help.

RNLI lifeguards patrol over 240 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands each summer, while the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews provide a 24/7 search and rescue service from 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland. You can find more safety information here.

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 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.