RNLI lifeguards urge public to heed safety advice this Bank Holiday weekend
With temperatures set to rise again towards the end of the week and into the Bank Holiday weekend, coupled with spring tides causing strong rip currents, the RNLI is encouraging the public to keep safe at the coast and always choose to visit a lifeguarded beach.
This year, the UK has experienced one of the warmest, driest summers since 1976* and with the bank holiday weekend approaching and the last couple of weeks of the school holidays, the RNLI is reiterating vital beach safety advice to ensure beach goers have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
RNLI lifeguards at Watergate Bay in Newquay, recorded over 22,000 visitors on one day alone during the recent heatwave (Saturday 13 August) along with two mass rescues and multiple incidents. Between 6 – 12 August, Newquay beaches also recorded 72 rescues, nine major first aids and over 155,000 beach visitors** throughout the week across their 10 operational beaches. This is just a snapshot of how busy the whole of the south west beaches have been this summer.
The RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast 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.
· 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 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 999/112 and ask for the Coastguard.
As well as huge numbers on beaches, RNLI lifeguards have dealt with multiple lost children, minor first aids including cuts and stings, major first aids including fractures and critical illnesses and provided lots of safety advice to beach goers to ensure they enjoyed their day at the beach as safely as possible.
On Friday (19 August) RNLI lifeguards at Godrevy and Gwithian beaches saved the lives of two people who got into difficulty in the water.
RNLI lifeguard Amber Sanders was carrying out routine observations from the beach lifeguarded unit (BLU) when she spotted two people being dragged out to sea towards Godrevy lighthouse. They had entered the water at a neighbouring cove which does not have operational lifeguards.
Amber and her colleague Alfie Brown immediately responded to the incident and radioed neighbouring Gwithian beach for back-up on their rescue water craft (RWC). Alfie picked up a rescue board and ran down to the water and paddled quickly to the casualties’ aid. The sea conditions changed very quickly having been a fairly moderate swell throughout the morning and this increased to 5-6ft set waves which contributed to challenging sea conditions.
When Alfie arrived at the scene, the pair were very distressed and were struggling to keep their heads above the water and began to panic. Alfie and his rescue board acted as a buoy to keep the pair afloat whilst huge waves were crashing onto their heads.
Alfie was quickly joined by Gwithian’s senior RNLI lifeguard, Anthony Stewart, on the RWC with colleague Tarryn Brown on the rescue sled behind. Tarryn swam to the casualties and secured them on the RWC rescue sled so that Anthony could bring the pair safely back to shore.
RNLI lifeguard supervisor, Lloyd Davies says;
‘This was a life-saving rescue and the pair were very lucky that they were spotted outside of the lifeguard’s operational area.
‘Incidents like this highlight why it is so important to always choose a lifeguarded beach if you are heading to the coast and always swim between the red and yellow flags – if we can’t see you, we can’t save you.
‘An amazing team effort from our RNLI lifeguards involved in this rescue in some very challenging sea conditions.
‘We’re looking ahead to a sunny Bank Holiday, with some surf forecast and spring tides which can often mean more water moving about and stronger rip currents. As people will be hoping to enjoy the long weekend and the last full week of the school holidays, it is vitally important that they keep safety at the front of mind.’
Henry Irvine and Guy Botterill, Regional RNLI Lifeguard Leads for the south west comments;
‘It has been an extremely busy summer so far for all our RNLI lifeguards across the south west, with packed beaches and a wide array of incidents including serious rescues and significant medical emergencies. We are exceptionally proud that our lifeguards achieve this with incredible skill, proactivity and professionalism, many of whom are young people in their first season of lifeguarding. It’s also been lovely to hear feedback from members of the public we have helped, whether that’s been a rescue, treating a weaver fish sting or simply offering safety advice – it’s obvious how much beach goers appreciate the presence of the lifeguards on the 90 beaches we have patrolled.
‘The warm weather and sheer number of people flocking to the region’s beaches has meant eventful days for the lifeguards, not only responding to incidents but constantly issuing safety advice in the water and on the beach, encouraging people to swim between the red and yellow flags, reuniting lost children with their families and raising awareness of local hazards – a large part of a lifeguard's role is preventative.
‘We are both extremely proud of all our lifeguards and as we head towards what’s predicted to be a busy end to the school holidays it is a great opportunity to thank them for all their hard work, day in day out, and their continuous professionalism and courage.’
Notes to editors
- Please see attached photos of Watergate Bay during the recent heatwave
- *Data from Met Office blog
- **Statistics from RNLI lifeguard’s daily logs
- To find your nearest lifeguarded beach, please visit: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Becky Bright, RNLI Media Engagement Placement (south west) on 07929 673281 or [email protected] or Amy Caldwell, RNLI Regional Media Manager (south west) on 07920 818807 or [email protected] or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or [email protected].
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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