A busy half term holiday sees south coast RNLI lifeguards in several rescues
A week full of warm, sunny weather in the south west saw crowds flock to the regions beaches over the school half term holidays last week (29 May to 2 June). RNLI lifeguards dealt with a range of incidents including assisting a number of paddleboarders in the strong easterly winds.
*Today and tomorrow the RNLI’s water safety team is on stand 496 at the Royal Cornwall Show giving lots of safety advice about paddle boarding. Visitors can also have a go on a stand-up paddle boarding ergometer, like a rowing machine for paddle boarding. The machine can be set to replicate the feeling of paddling in the water in different wind and tidal conditions to help illustrate how challenging it can be in different environments.*
On June 1, a search for a missing 10 year old girl was conducted by the RNLI lifeguards on duty at Sharrow beach after her parents alarmed the lifeguards that she was missing. A shoreline search on the all terrain vehicle (ATV) quad bike was immediately carried out followed by the inshore rescue boat (IRB) being launched to look further out onto the water. After 15 minutes, the lifeguards located the young casualty, she was brought safely back to shore on the inshore rescue boat.
On the same day, the IRB was launched to attend to four girls who were on two stand up paddleboards that were blown to the west of Tregonhawke beach into a cut off bay by strong cross winds. The lifeguards patrolling were concerned that they were unable to paddle back to shore due to the strong winds, and therefore all four were picked up by the IRB and transported back to the beach. Other rescues involving stand-up paddleboards also took place at Seaton during the same week. The RNLI has seen an increase in the number of SUP (stand up paddleboard) related incidents as the activity grows in popularity and accessibility, .
Charlie Gillett, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for South East Cornwall says;
‘With incidents involving paddle boarding on the rise, it is now more important than ever that the public are aware of the potential risks involved with SUP and kayaking. These are wonderful water based activities, however it is vital that individuals are well prepared and informed before getting in the sea.’
Over the half term week, the RNLI attended a number of rescues involving people getting cut off by the tide. This included a young couple who were cut off at No Fear beach on Saturday 3 June, and had to be rescued by the IRB by two of the patrolling lifeguards. Just two days later, three men were left clinging to a cliff face near Sharrow beach after being cut off by the tide. The IRB was launched and once at the scene was reversed into a deep gully area where they were safely able to reach the casualties, and get them onto the boat before being taken back to Sharrow beach.
Further up the south coast at Bantham beach, the RNLI lifeguards on duty were similarly busy. Nearer the beginning of the half term (30 May), two young girls who were away from the patrol zone were spotted by lifeguards after being swept out to sea in offshore winds. They were rescued and safely brought back to shore and given important safety advice from the RNLI lifeguards.
A double rescue was carried out on 4 June at Bantham, following a female kite surfer who was noticed going down around the back of the island, a dangerous area which is often a blind spot for lifeguards. Realising she was in trouble, the RNLI lifeguards launched their IRB, managing to reach her and bring her safely on board. On their way back to shore, the lifeguards noticed a kayaker who was also struggling with the strong offshore wind. The casualty had capsized and was unable to get back into the kayak. The lifeguards at Bigbury were immediately alerted to this and launched their inshore rescue boat to attend the casualty. RNLI lifeguards in both boats safely recovered the casualties and returned to shore at the same time, after a successful double rescue.
Luke Lane Prokopiou, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor in the South Hams, said;
‘It has been great to see so many people enjoying our coastline over the past few weeks. However, sea safety must be taken seriously by all those who enter the water. If you are planning on visiting the coast this summer, I urge you to be prepared for any water activity you have in mind. Please check the tide times and weather before heading out and if in doubt, do not hesitate to speak to one of our lifeguards on patrol.’
This year’s May bank holiday weekend also saw Praa Sands RNLI lifeguards attending a number of rescues, including a woman who’d been blown offshore on a paddleboard. The lifeguard team was alerted to the woman, who was around the rocks and had got stranded in a little cove. The lifeguards launched their inshore rescue boat and went out to the cove to bring her back to shore. Whilst rescuing her they noticed two other paddleboarders struggling with the conditions too, so were able to assist those casualties back to shore as well.
While the warm weather looks set to continue into next week, and the wind is forecast to change direction, the RNLI urges anyone visiting the coast to follow this 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 and ask for the Coastguard
Notes to editors
- Photos on-board the IRB rescues at Praa Sands and Whitsand Bay (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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