RNLI urges people to take extra care following changes to Government guidance

Lifeguards News Release

The RNLI is currently working through the updated guidance in England delivered by the UK Prime Minister on 11 May and will be engaging with a number of watersport governing bodies and other stakeholders to help inform its response.

Following changes in Government guidance for England, which allows people to travel to the coast and use the water, many people may choose to participate in water-based activities such as swimming, kayaking, surfing, boating and angling from Wednesday 12 May.

The charity is warning beach visitors that at present there are no RNLI lifeguards on beaches and although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, it is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risk and takes the necessary steps to keep themselves safe. This will also help to reduce the demands placed on our lifeboat crews and other emergency services including HM Coastguard. In this way we can all work together to succeed in ensuring the coast is a safe place to visit.

The RNLI normally patrols over 240 beaches around the coast, however, rollout of the normal seasonal lifeguard service was paused at the end of March due to the measures put in place by the UK Government to control the spread of Coronavirus.

The charity is currently working with local authorities and beach owners in the hope that it can provide a lifeguard service on around 30% of the beaches the charity usually covers this summer. Re-establishing this infrastructure and distributing equipment to beaches will take time. We must also make sure that conditions are safe for our lifeguards to provide an effective service – our priority remains to be the safety of our people and the public.

We would urge anyone planning a visit to the coast to follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Take care near cliffs - know your route and your limitations
  • Have a plan - check the weather forecast and tide times
  • 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
  • If boating, ensure your equipment is functioning and maintained
  • In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Although guidance for Wales and Scotland remains the same for essential travel and work, the public are allowed to take part in unlimited exercise and we are awaiting further Government guidance for Northern Ireland later this week – the RNLI has seen a number of water rescues around the coast and therefore urges all who are using the water to make sure they understand the risks and follow safety advice.

RNLI media contacts
Spokespeople are available for interview please contact the RNLI press officer to arrange on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@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.

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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.