RNLI reminder to heed safety warnings as strong winds forecast to hit the south

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI are encouraging beach goers and those visiting the coast to heed safety advice after Met office warnings of strong winds and gales hitting the south west on Friday as the tail end of Storm Lorenzo passes through the UK.

Steve Instance, RNLI Community Safety Manager for the south west says;

‘We’re expecting more strong winds to hit the south west throughout Friday bringing with it rough sea conditions. We are fortunate that we no longer have the large tides which brought with them all the flooding issues last week, but there will still be large surges associated with the big swell.

We would advise people to stay out of the water, the four beaches* across the south west that have a lifeguard service on Friday are likely to be showing the red flag and these conditions will extend to almost all beaches along both north and south coasts. Strong winds and heavy rain will make the cliff paths treacherous and extra care should be taken when coastal walking. Those heading to the coast to take photographs of the conditions should make sure that they don’t get too close.’

During similar conditions last Friday (27 September) RNLI lifeguards rescued four surfers from the water at St Agnes beach in Cornwall.

Shortly before the incident, RNLI lifeguards on duty had made the decision to fly the red flag due to the large surf and strong onshore winds making conditions difficult as the tide came in, advising all water users to exit the water.

Around an hour later, the tide had covered the beach at St Agnes and the large surf was hitting the buildings at the top of the beach, making conditions very dangerous. RNLI lifeguard Dulcie Havers, alerted her colleagues to a lady in the water in obvious difficulty. RNLI lifeguards Moss Thomas and Matt Trewhella entered the water using rescue tubes, Moss reached her first and secured her with the rescue tube, bringing her back to safety.

Immediately afterwards, another surfer was also having difficulty returning to shore Moss swam back out to help him to safety.

Noticing that the other two surfers in the water looking to be in distress. Dulcie did a PA announcement asking the surfers to wave if they needed assistance returning to shore. Both males frantically began to wave.

Video footage shows RNLI lifeguard Matt Trewhella and colleague Matt Weistenholme swimming out through the large and confused breaking waves with rescue tubes to the surfers and helping them back to shore where they we treated for minor injuries.

Matt Trewhella, RNLI lifeguard says;

‘The rescue was extremely difficult, the currents were very strong and the water was pushing towards a spring high tide. We were unable to take rescue boards due to the water crashing against the slipway it was safer to take rescue tubes as they are less risk of injury and the best way to return the surfers to shore safely. Lifeguard patrols have now finished on St Agnes beach for the season, so I am grateful we were there to help.’

The beaches that have lifeguard cover on weekends and during the school half term (Saturday 19 October until Sunday 27 October) are;

Praa Sands, Gwithian, Porthtowan, Perranporth, Towan, Watergate, Mawgan Porth, Harlyn, Constantine, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze in Cornwall plus Woolacombe and Bantham in Devon

Fistral, Porthmeor and Sennen in Cornwall, and Croyde in North Devon will have cover everyday in October right up until the end of October half term (Sunday 27 October)

Note to editors

  • Video footage of the incident is available to download here credit RNLI/Leon Jonas

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For more information please contact Amy Caldwell RNLI Regional Media Manager at amy_caldwell@rnli.org.uk or 07920818807 or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789

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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.

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