Busy RNLI lifeguards issue safety warnings ahead of warmer weather and surf

Lifeguards News Release

The recent damp and windy August weather has not put beach goers off with RNLI lifeguards across the south west reporting busy beaches and an increase in the number of incidents they are dealing with.

RNLI/Sam Chamberlain

RNLI lifeguard punching through surf on a rescue water craft

With a spell of welcome sunshine and surf predicted for the coming weeks, coupled with big tides, the charity’s life savers are urging beach goers to be aware of the conditions and their capabilities, to head to a lifeguarded beach and to heed safety advice before going into the water.

While most beaches on the north coast of the region were red flagged this weekend due to the strong winds and big surf conditions, the beaches in more sheltered spots reported large visitor numbers on the sand and in the water. Lifeguards on Haryln beach, which is protected from the south westerly winds, reported an extremely busy day shepherding surfers, bodyboarders and swimmers between the respective flags and responding before incidents escalated. They also dealt with three major casualty care incidents and three major rescues on Friday (6 August).

On Saturday afternoon the lifeguards at Praa Sands were tasked by Falmouth Coastguard, to a serious incident involving an adult and a child who had got into difficulty while bodyboarding at the southerly end of the beach known as Hendra. The sea was choppy with around 2-foot surf, so the lifeguards responded immediately by launching the inshore rescue boat (IRB).

Arriving on scene the lifeguards could see the adult and child were struggling and clinging onto some rocks whilst being assisted by a local surfer. Lifeguard Guy Brooks entered the water with a rescue tube to reach the casualties, meanwhile lifeguard Matt Trewhella who was helming the IRB, had received further radio communications about a swimmer who was in difficulty in the heavy waves.

Because of the increasing wave size and strong currents, Matt asked for back up from the lifeguards on the beach and for the assistance of Penlee RNLI lifeboat. Matt drove the IRB back to the beach to pick up lifeguard Ella Bendow, while volunteer lifeguard Jethero Pope swam over with fins and a rescue tube to assist with the three casualties.

Once the IRB was back on scene with the casualties, Ella entered the water with a rescue tube to help support the casualties on the rocks. The waves were very powerful at this point and the lifeguards had to communicate a plan with Matt on the IRB, about the safest way to extract each casualty from their position on the rocks.

As Penlee lifeboat arrived on scene, Guy was able to swim the child back to the IRB with the rescue tube and from there, the child was transferred over to the lifeboat volunteers. The lifeguard team managed to extract the two adult casualties safely from their position on the rocks over to the IRB, and then transferred to the lifeboat in very challenging conditions.

When all three casualties were safely on the lifeboat and the crew had completed their initial casualty care checks, it was decided they would be taken to Penlee lifeboat station where they could be monitored closely, allowing the lifeguards to return to duty on the busy beach.

RNLI lifesavers at The Lizard and Kennack Sands also worked together to rescue four people and a dog who’d got into difficulty in the strong winds on two paddleboards on Saturday (1 August). And RNLI lifeguards at Fistral beach rescued a man caught in a rip current on Monday (9 August).

Looking ahead to this week, a consistent spell of sunshine and surf coincides with large, spring tides. This means there will be a lot of water movement in the sea, making sudden and powerful rip currents more likely to occur.

Guy Botterill, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager says;

‘As expected, with the influx of holiday makers, the beaches across the region have been very busy since the beginning of the summer holidays, and when the sun came out for a day last week (4 August) the lifeguards estimated that it was the busiest day of the season yet. We’re anticipating the next week to 10 days, to be just as busy for our teams around the region.

Our concern is the arrival of more settled sunshine attracting even more people to the beaches and into the water, at the same time as some bigger surf predicted to hit the coast. We are also on spring tides at the moment which means the tidal range is bigger, all this combines to mean more water movement creating stronger and more dangerous rip currents.

When the conditions are like this during the school holidays the lifeguards are constantly making decisions and taking action to prevent incidents. But with more people around, we’d urge beach goers to be aware of the conditions and their capabilities, take responsibility for their own, and their families safety, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Help our lifeguards to help keep you safe.’

The key summer safety advice is:

· Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags

· If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about

· Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

Notes to Editors

• Follow the link to see which beaches are currently lifeguarded here

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

Media contacts

For more information please contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, Regional Media Engagement Placement on c_fitzpatrick-smith@rnli.org.uk or 07902 975993 or Emma Haines, Regional Media officer emma_haines@rnli.org.uk or RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or via 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 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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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.