RNLI lifeguards set to return as new data shows beaches busier than ever

Lifeguards News Release

Lifeguards from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) return to beaches this week, as figures from 2021 show more people than ever visited a lifeguarded beach and needed the help of the charity’s lifesavers.

RNLI lifeguards training on the beach

Nigel Millard

Last summer over 20M* people visited a lifeguarded beach, the highest number recorded since the RNLI introduced lifeguard patrols in 2001. Lifeguards also aided more than 40,000 people in 2021, which is a 25% increase on the previous high back in 2018. The latest figures come as RNLI lifeguards train and prepare to return to beaches for the 2022 season.

Every year RNLI lifeguards are involved in carrying out water rescues, administering first aid, delivering water safety information and helping to reunite missing children with their families. Over the past few weeks they have been training and practicing their skills so that they are ready to face what the upcoming season brings.

The RNLI will carry out their usual lifeguard service this year across the UK and Channel Islands in its standard phased approach. The first big number of beaches will go on service from Saturday 9 April, ahead of the Easter holidays, and join Crosby beach which is patrolled 365 days of the year and three others who started at the beginning of April. The number of beaches will gradually increase through the season until the peak school summer holidays when over 240 beaches are patrolled.

Georgia Landy, RNLI Seasonal Lifeguard Supervisor, said:

‘RNLI lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, as they keep beach visitors safe across the UK and Channel Islands. Last year’s figures show the importance of our lifeguards and what they do for the public, we are expecting coastal areas to be just as busy in the summer season ahead.

‘The RNLI has been working closely with partners and local communities to ensure the beaches and lifeguard units are ready and equipped, and that lifeguard training has been performed seamlessly.

‘Pre-season preparations have gone well and our lifeguards are looking forward to getting back on the beaches and doing what they do best; offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water or on the beach itself.

‘However, it is important to remember that our lifeguards can’t be everywhere. Our lifeguards will be supported by the charity’s 24/7 lifeboat service and water safety work, but we urge anyone visiting the coast to take responsibility for themselves and their family this summer.’

We have a number of patrolled beaches around the coast from the Easter holidays. Find your nearest at rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches.

Gabbi Batchelor, RNLI Water Safety Education Manager, said:

‘Heading to coastal waters is a great way to have fun and stay active, especially during the summer months. But, weather conditions can change quickly and, if you’re not careful, you can easily get caught out.

‘It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the hazards of the environment. It can be an unpredictable environment, particularly during early summer when the risk of cold water shock significantly increases, as air temperatures warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold. We’d remind anyone entering the water to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks as early season conditions are more challenging.'

The RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this summer to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice.

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
  • For activities like paddleboarding or kayaking we recommend you wear a wetsuit, buoyancy aid or lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch and keep it on you. Tell someone what you are doing, where your are going and when you expect to return.
  • If you are going open water swimming, use a wetsuit to keep you warm, wear a bright coloured swim hat and take a tow float to store personal items including a phone for emergencies
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water – don’t allow your family to swim alone.
  • Avoid use of an inflatables in the sea as they can be quickly blown away especially by offshore winds.
  • 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.


Notes to editors:

  • *Every two hours on their patrols RNLI lifeguards estimate the number of people on their beach. They then take the peak number reached per day and then add all the days together for any year required (or other time period).
  • RNLI lifeguard 2021 statistics:
  • 18,180 incidents
  • 112 lives saved
  • 40,762 people aided
  • 25,469 incident actions
  • 3,721, 079 preventative actions
  • 20,737, 057 beach visitors
  • Interviews with RNLI lifeguards are available upon request.
  • RNLI lifeguards patrol on Crosby beach in Formby 365 days of the year.
  • By Easter RNLI lifeguards will be on 53 beaches across the UK and Channel Islands. This number will increase over the coming months until over 240 beaches are reached by mid-July.
RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Oliver Wrynne-Simpson, National Media Manager, on 077951 27351 or Chloe Barr, RNLI National Media Engagement Placement, on 07790772788 or contact the National Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI lifeguard watching people in the sea from the shoreline

RNLI Nathan Williams

RNLI lifeguards training on the beach

RNLI Nathan Williams

RNLI lifeguards from Hastings


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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.