RNLI urges coastal visitors to stay safe

Lifeguards News Release

As school summer holidays come to an end, full time patrols on many RNLI lifeguarded beaches including those in the North West of England will finish this Sunday, 6 September, but the charity will still provide a lifeguard service on six beaches across the region this month.

RNLI/Nuala McAloon

Now members of the public are being urged by the charity to take extra care and be responsible when visiting the beach by knowing their limits and not taking risks. If intending to use the water people are encouraged to head to one of the six lifeguarded beaches but to maintain social distancing and if that’s not possible, consider spending your day elsewhere.

Despite the Coronavirus situation and the challenges posed by lockdown restrictions earlier in the year, the RNLI has worked with local authorities and other partners to provide lifeguards on 177 beaches across the UK this summer.

RNLI lifeguards adapted to new protocols this season because of the pandemic to protect themselves and the public from the virus. This has included wearing PPE, enhanced cleaning of equipment and maintaining a two metre distance from others while carrying out their role.

Lifeguards at Formby beach will lower their flags and pack their equipment away for the final time at 6pm this Sunday in what has been a very busy season for the RNLI, as more people holidayed at home this summer and visited beaches in the north west. However, an RNLI lifeguard service will continue on West Kirby, Harrison Drive, New Brighton and Leasowe Bay between 10am and 6pm every Saturday and Sunday until the 27 September and at weekends on Ainsdale beach until 20 September. Crosby Beach meanwhile, will maintain its year round lifeguard service.

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 the region this season were, the rescue of three people within a 10 minute period who were caught in a strong tidal current, the rescue of a capsized kayaker a kilometre from the beach, and the administration of first aid to a lady stung by a jellyfish who subsequently suffered an anaphylactic shock.

Among the rescues elsewhere in the UK, eight people were brought to safety in Cornwall after getting caught in a rip current, successful CPR was administered to a six-year-old girl in Kent who stopped breathing and two children were rescued in Yorkshire after they were blown off shore on an inflatable.

Pete Rooney, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said:

‘It has been an extremely busy summer for RNLI lifeguards with huge numbers of people visiting beaches in the North West of England and indeed across the UK. Our lifeguards have worked really hard and done a fantastic job of keeping people safe at the beach while working in a pandemic. They deserve great credit for the commitment and dedication they have shown.

‘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.’

Pete continued: ‘We know many people are still on furlough and not holidaying abroad, so it’s likely more people than usual will be visiting the UK coast this September. If you’re visiting the beach, take note of the safety signage at the entrance, go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where you’re going, and always be aware of the conditions and your 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.’

If you’re planning a visit to a beach or the coast please follow this safety advice:

§ 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

RNLI lifeboat crews have been operating throughout the pandemic and continue to be on call 24/7 ready to respond to emergencies when their pager goes off.

For details of which beaches have RNLI lifeguard patrols in September and October, go to RNLI.org/find-my-nearest

ENDS

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.