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North Devon’s RNLI lifeguards prepare for busy summer holiday period

Lifeguards News Release

Lifeguard patrols along the north Devon coast have been in full swing since the beginning of peak season (8 July), as the charity highlights important safety advice to keep families safe this summer.


RNLI Lifeguard team in North Devon

With the start of the summer holidays now underway, North Devon’s beaches are expected to be very busy over the next six weeks as people visit the region’s coastline. Since peak season patrols resumed on Saturday 8 July, RNLI lifeguards across the north coast have already seen an increase in the number of rescues in the area.

Croyde beach has been notably busy due to rip currents. Mass rescues have been a frequent occurrence, including 29 people being rescued in a flash rip current on the first weekend in July. The Rescue Water Craft (RWC) was used by lifeguards to bring all of the casualties to safety. The following week (7 July), in just a two-hour period, 25 rescues took place during mid to low tide as a result of the large surf and rip currents at the beach.

RNLI lifeguards have occasionally had to evacuate the water and close the beach temporarily at Croyde, sometimes towards the end of the day to discourage members of the public from entering the water when the lifeguards are no longer on duty. The RNLI is therefore urging people to always visit lifeguarded beaches and only enter the water during operating hours (10am - 6pm daily).

At Westward Ho! beach, access around the slipway has been a particular point of focus for the RNLI lifeguards with assistances and rescues occurring mainly during incoming tide when the access to the beach is cut off and there is a deep hole in the sand at the bottom of the slipway. Lifeguards also attended a major first aid incident at the Westward Ho! sea pool, where a member of the public experienced cold-water shock on a very hot, sunny day. The impact of this temperature change resulted in a shock to the casualty’s body, and they had to be treated by both lifeguards and paramedics at the scene. At the same beach, strong offshore winds resulted in a couple of rescues by the patrolling lifeguards.

RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for North Devon, Matt Whitley, says:

‘We are seeing a large increase in incidents involving stand up paddleboards (SUP), inflatables and other water-based equipment, particularly when there are flat conditions in the water. It is now more important than ever that the public are aware of the potential risks involved with the likes of SUP and kayaking. These are wonderful activities; however, it is vital that individuals are well prepared and informed before getting in the sea.’

RNLI lifeguards at Sandymere beach were called into action over the past few weeks following several wind and kite surfing incidents. The Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) has been launched a number of times after conditions out at sea have changed, particularly with the wind fading. Another cold-water shock incident resulted in lifeguards administering medical care to an elderly man at Sandymere, who became hyperthermic on a hot day following a significant temperature change in his body after entering the cold sea.

Matt added;

‘Our qualified and dedicated lifeguards here in North Devon will be working hard throughout the summer period to ensure everyone visiting the coastline has an enjoyable and safe time at our beaches. Our lifeguard teams have completed their final training in preparation for the busiest time of year on our beaches, and we now have even more lifeguards with RWC and IRB qualifications.’

The charity is urging anyone visiting the coast during the school summer holidays to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following our beach safety advice and most importantly, visiting a lifeguarded beach.

RNLI lifeguards are currently patrolling Croyde, Woolacombe, Sandymere and Westward Ho! from 10am – 6pm every day.

Notes to editors

North Devon RNLI Lifeguard team photo (Credit: RNLI)

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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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