RNLI and Coastguard urge parents to leave inflatables at home to be beach safe

Lifeguards News Release

With the easing of lockdown rules and the opening of the tourism industry along with the upcoming school summer holidays, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and HM Coastguard are today calling for anyone visiting the coast to take extra care and be beach safe this summer.

Beach Safety Campaign advice

RNLI

Be Beach Safe this summer

RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling on around 170 UK and Ireland beaches by peak season but lifeguards can’t be everywhere this summer, so the charity is urging beach-goers to be aware of the dangers at the coast, and to know what to do should they or a member of their family get into trouble.

The core safety advice is:

· Have a plan - check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage

· Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water

· Don’t allow your family to swim alone

· Don’t use inflatables

· If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float

· In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard

Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said: ‘We have now got RNLI lifeguards on far more beaches than we originally planned after the easing of lockdown rules, but they still can’t be absolutely everywhere this summer.

‘That’s why we are urging everyone to take extra care of themselves and their families whenever they are in or near the water.

‘Many of the emergencies we respond to involve inflatables and that is a key reason why we strongly advise against taking them to the beach. Inflatables are not designed for open water and it takes very little breeze for them to be swept out to sea much quicker than you can swim or paddle back to the beach. What may seem fun at first can turn into an extremely serious situation, in a matter of seconds.

‘No one ever goes to the coast expecting to be rescued, yet RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews rescue thousands of people each year. And the fact that we have been so busy already his summer shows us that some people are not taking these warnings seriously enough.

‘If you get into danger in the water, relax and float to give yourself time to recover before swimming to safety or calling for help. If you see someone else in danger, please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said: ‘We know from sad experience that whether you’re local or not, whatever your ability of experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does.

‘We know how beautiful the coast is but it’s deadly if you get it wrong and your choices might put your family, friends and our frontline responders at risk as well as yourself.

‘Check tide times and remember the sea has currents and rip tides that can’t easily be seen. Look out for each other and if you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

‘Don’t make your trip to the coast memorable for all the wrong reasons.’

Background:

· Despite the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 and social distancing the RNLI is still providing a lifeguard service on around 70% of the beaches the charity usually covers while RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard remain on call 24/7 ready to respond to emergencies.

· In 2019, RNLI lifeguards aided more than 29,000 people on UK beaches in more than 17,000 incidents, saving a total of 154 lives.

· They also helped to reunite nearly 1,800 lost children and teenagers with their families and aided 346 people in incidents involving inflatables.

For further information on the campaign visit: rnli.org/beach2020

A full list of lifeguarded beaches can be found here: rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches

Notes to editors:

· Interviews are available via phone, Skype or Microsoft Teams

· The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and they continue to launch to those in peril at sea.

· To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: rnli.org/donate

· RNLI shops, museums and visitor centres remain shut and all community fundraising has stopped.

For more information, please contact RNLI National Media Officer Andy Rose on 07976 523794 or email andrew_rose@rnli.org.uk Alternatively, contact the press office on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline emergency response agency of the Department for Transport. As well as delivering maritime search and rescue through HM Coastguard (one of the four UK emergency services), the MCA is responsible for maritime regulation, safety and counter-pollution.

For further information about this or any MCA news story, please contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office on 020 381 72222 or email Public.Relations@mcga.gov.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.

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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.