On Sunday (28 October) the lifeguard teams packed their equipment away for the final time this year as the RNLI lifeguard season officially ended in the south-west.
For many years the RNLI has provided lifeguard cover for the half term week, providing locals and visitors alike with the option of visiting a lifeguarded beach. During last week, the lifeguards patrolled 19 beaches providing safety advice to beachgoers. The lifeguards dealt with a number of incidents including broken ankles, assisting surfers and bodyboarders in rip currents and a person stuck in quicksand.
A number of beaches were patrolled by local surf lifesaving clubs volunteers in conjunction with the RNLI.
RNLI lifeguards will continue to patrol both Croyde and Woolacombe beaches for the rest of this week (29 October to Sunday 4 November) to provide additional cover for those taking their half term holidays this week, thanks to a partnership with the local landowners. Patrols will be from 10 am until sunset (around 5 pm).
Fistral beach will be patrolled by volunteer RNLI lifeguards every weekend until Sunday 25 November from 10 am until sunset.
Steve Instance, RNLI Community Safety Partner, said: ‘Yet again it has been another very busy season for our lifeguards and we have seen huge numbers of people coming to beaches in the south-west during the season.
‘The majority of our lifeguards’ work is preventative so as well as the rescues and incidents they were involved in, they will have stopped many more potentially dangerous incidents before they occurred. Our lifeguards have worked really hard and have once again done a fantastic job of keeping people safe at the coast this summer.’
The 2018 season has been extremely busy for the RNLI lifeguards around the region, as the hot weather saw thousands of people head to the beach. The teams have dealt with a whole range of incidents, from sea rescues to first aid incidents, lost children and weever fish stings
With the season ending, the RNLI is encouraging people to keep safety in their mind when visiting the coast by knowing their limits and not taking risks.
Steve continued: ‘If you’re visiting the beach take note of the safety signage at the entrance, go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where you’re going, and always be aware of the conditions and your own capabilities in the water.
‘People walking on the coast should check the weather forecast and tide times before setting out and carry a means of communication. The changing seasons can mean bigger swells and more unpredictable rip currents in the water so people should take extra care. Even from the shore large waves can sweep you off your feet and drag you out to sea.’
Anyone in difficulty in the water should try not to panic or fight against any currents, hold onto anything buoyant they have, call for help and raise their hand to attract attention and try to keep their head above water.
As part of the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign the charity advises that you do not enter the water if you see someone in trouble, but call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. If you have something that floats, throw it to them. A host of information and advice on various aspects of water safety is available at RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.