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Public urged to take care as strong winds forecast for south west on Wednesday

Lifeguards News Release

The RNLI is urging people to visit lifeguarded beaches and take extra care on Wednesday (2 August) as the Met Office issues a yellow weather warning for strong winds for Cornwall, north Devon and along the south coast.

picture of an orange wind sock blowing in the wind

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Current Met Office forecasts are for strong west, west-north-west winds of up to 40mph around the south west coast. These conditions are predicted to create large swells which will lead to challenging conditions and unpredictable seas.

Alongside this week’s large spring tides, these conditions can result in a dangerous sea state and increase the risk of strong rip currents. If you see a red flag at a lifeguarded beach, do not enter the water, as it is unsafe for any water activities. If there are no flags, there are no lifeguards.

Spring tides and large waves mean people could very easily get cut off by the incoming tide. Anyone heading to the coast is reminded of the importance of checking the tide times and ensuring they have enough time to return if they decide to venture further along the beach.

And if you’re visiting the coastline along cliff paths and piers, please keep a safe distance from the edge as surging currents can sweep people off their feed unexpectedly.

Steve Instance, RNLI Water Safety Lead for the south west, said: ‘When we experience conditions such as this, especially during the summer when the region is busy with visitors, it is very important that people familiarise themselves with the conditions and forecast as they can easily catch people out.

‘It is incredibly important that those heading to the coast keep themselves safe by choosing a lifeguarded beach and visiting within the patrol hours of 10am-6pm. The lifeguards can offer advice and information on tide times and guide you to the safest area to swim, which will be between the red and yellow flags. Anyone surfing should know their limits and always stay within the black and white flagged area.

‘Always make sure you are always contactable at the coast by carrying a fully-charged mobile phone and if you get into trouble or see someone else in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

If you find yourself in difficulty in the water, float to live;
  • tilt your head back with ears submerged
  • relax and try to control your breathing
  • use your hands to help you stay afloat
  • call for help.
If you get caught in a rip current:
  • If you have a floatation device such as a bodyboard, keep hold of it
  • Swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore
  • Do not try to swim against the rip current or you’ll get exhausted
  • Always raise your hand and shout for help.
RNLI media contact

For more information contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on 07977 728 315 or [email protected], or Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on 07786 668 847 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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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.