RNLI lifeguards urge use lifeguarded beach and swim between red and yellow flags

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI lifeguards along the Causeway Coast and in County Down are appealing to people planning a trip to the beach this week to enjoy the latest spell of hot weather, to choose a lifeguarded beach and to only swim between the red and yellow flags.

Kirstin Bews

RNLI lifeguards apepal

Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor said: ‘Sea swells are expected particularly along our Causeway Coast beaches in the coming days which will intensify the risk of people getting into difficulty in rip currents so it is imperative that people planning on visiting the coast to enjoy this beautiful weather do so safely by visiting a lifeguarded beach and by ensuring they swim between the red and yellow flags only, which mark the safest stretch of water and the area our lifeguards patrol.

‘In recent days, our lifeguard team has rescued a large number of people from rip currents. Yesterday alone, six people were rescued at Portrush East Strand while this evening, another two were rescued from a rip current at Portstewart Strand. We would encourage people if they can, to also avoid swimming near rocks or sea defences where there can be permanent rip currents that pull you out to sea and where we are also experiencing incidents where people are not just suffering from the effects of struggling in the water but who are also picking up injuries such as cuts from being dragged along the rocks.’

The RNLI is also reminding people about the dangers of cold water shock, which can seriously affect breathing and movement, and can occur in any water temperature below 15c.

Over half of those who get into danger at the coast each year never planned to enter the water – slips, trips and falls are a significant problem. The RNLI is urging people to Float to Live if they get into trouble in the water. This means leaning back and spreading your arms and legs to stay afloat, controlling your breathing, then calling for help or swimming to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the Coastguard, or the police if you are inland.

For further information on the RNLI’s water safety campaign visit: RNLI.org/FloatUK2022

A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found here: rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches

The RNLI’s 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 before venturing out
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water – don’t allow your family to swim alone
  • If you fall into 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 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.


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.