With the RNLI lifeguard season drawing to a close this Sunday (27 September), the charity is urging beach goers to take extra care and be responsible when visiting the coast by knowing their limits and not taking risks. If intending to use the water people are encouraged to head to one of the 27 lifeguarded beaches across Devon and Cornwall with extended patrols into October.
Despite the Coronavirus situation and the challenges posed by lockdown restrictions earlier in the year the RNLI have provided lifeguards on 76 beaches across the south west this summer, with lifeguards recording a 100 per cent increase in the number of beach users in comparison to 2019, despite being on fewer beaches.*
Tom Mansell, RNLI Regional Lifesaving Lead says;
‘2020 has been unique in many ways for everyone, it has also been one of the busiest summers for our lifeguards on the beaches in the south west.
Alongside locals who holidayed at home this year, and regular staycationers, we had an influx of visitors who could not take their annual trip abroad and chose to get away to the south west this summer. For our lifeguards this meant more people on the beaches and in the water, even on days with poor weather.
As we head into Autumn we are seeing this pattern continuing with hotels and holiday accommodation reporting higher than usual bookings for this time of year, and our lifeguards are recording numbers in the water also up in the first week of September compared to previous years**.
The RNLI usually provide a lifeguard service into October for those making the most of the mild autumn weather and in response to the situation we see unfolding this year we have worked with Cornwall Council and the private beach owners in Devon to either increase the level of lifeguard cover on beaches with October patrols already, or add additional beaches to ensure that those wishing to use the water this autumn can do so safely.’
The details of the RNLI lifeguard cover are:
After this Sunday 27 September, lifeguard cover will CEASE at the following beaches – Cornwall Seaton, Sharrow, Tregantle, Kennack, Gyllyngvase, Tolcarne, Porth, Portreath, St. Agnes, Perran Sands, Godrevy, Upton Towans, Beach View, Porthminster, Gwenver, Porthcothan, Booby’s, Trevone, Trebarwith and Crooklets.
Devon – Sandy Bay (Exmouth), Sedgewell Cove, Challaborough, Westward Ho!, Sandymere
The following beaches will continue to have weekend cover PLUS every day of October half term holiday (Saturday 17 October to Sunday 1 November)
Cornwall – Poldhu, Porthcurno, Treyarnon, Sandymouth, Hayle Towans, Chapel Porth, Holywell Bay and Crantock.
Devon – Woolacombe, Croyde and Bantham
Full time cover will continue until 1 November on the following 16 beaches:
Cornwall – Tregonhawke, Praa Sands, Fistral, Towan, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Porthtowan, Perranporth, Gwithian, Porthmeor, Sennen, Constantine, Harlyn, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze.
Lifeguarding hours will be from 10am until 18pm until BST ends on 25 October after which service will be affected by failing light.
‘We’d really encourage anyone planning on going in the water to head to one of the lifeguarded beaches around the region where lifeguards will be on hand to offer advice and they can enjoy their activity safely.
‘Where there are no flags, there is no lifeguard service. Those who can’t make it to a lifeguarded beach can help keep themselves safe by taking note of the safety signage at the entrance to the beach, going with a friend or telling someone on the shore where they are going, at the same time always being aware of the conditions and their own capabilities in the water. Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water.
Those who enjoy walking and exploring the coastline should check the weather forecast and local tide times before setting out, and carry a means of communication.
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’
RNLI lifeboat crews have been operating throughout the pandemic and continue to be on call 24/7 ready to respond to emergencies when their pager goes off.