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RNLI urges coastal visitors to stay safe as lifeguard season in East Dorset ends

Lifeboats News Release

With this season’s lifeguard services on beaches in East Dorset having come to an end last weekend, the RNLI is urging people visiting the coast to take extra care in the coming months.

RNLI lifeguards on patrol in Dorset.


RNLI lifeguards on patrol in Dorset.

Despite the coronavirus situation and the challenges posed by lockdown restrictions earlier in the year, the RNLI has worked alongside Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, to provide a lifeguard service on twelve beaches in East Dorset this summer.

While most lifeguard services ended after the school holidays, lifeguards remained on the beaches at Boscombe East, Bournemouth East, Bournemouth West and Sandbanks until last weekend (Sun 27 September).

The south coast’s beaches saw unprecedented numbers of visitors over the summer as people chose to stay at home and holiday in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The large crowds presented big challenges for the lifeguards who also embraced new safety precautions to keep themselves and the public protected from the Covid-19 virus. This meant wearing PPE, the enhanced cleaning of equipment and maintaining a two metre distance from others.

Nevertheless the lifeguards were able to respond to numerous incidents in the water, provided casualty care for minor and major medical incidents, helped find lost children and provide vital safety advice and guidance which prevented more incidents occurring.

In one of many notable incidents during the season, RNLI lifeguards at Sandbanks rescued a swimmer caught struggling to stay afloat while caught in a rip current and saved a second man who was clinging to a groyne for safety:

Councillor Vicki Slade, Acting Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Communities at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council commented:

‘This summer has been very challenging for everyone who works on the seafront. We received an unprecedented number of visitors to our beaches which made working at the beach – with the added safety procedures that were in place – very difficult. The RNLI lifeguards really rose to the challenge in keeping everyone safe and I’d like to thank them for their hard work during these unusual times.

Now that the lifeguard season has ended, we’d like to remind people to stay safe on our beaches and in the water, and follow the RNLI’s safety advice’.

East Dorset RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor, Kester Sheppard advised visitors to put safety first when visiting the coast:

‘With many people staying in the UK this autumn we know it’s likely there will be more people visiting the coast this year than usual, particularly on warmer days. We would urge anyone heading to a beach to do some research before their visit into the local conditions, check the tide timetables and weather and take a means of communications with them.

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’.

Note to Editors:

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.

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 Media Contacts:

Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer, London and South East, [email protected], 07785 296252

Julie Rainey, RNLI Regional Media Manager, London and South East, [email protected] (07827) 358256

For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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For more information on the RNLI please visit News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre

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.

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