As the school holidays approach, the RNLI in the south-west is calling on people visiting the coast this Easter to respect the water and remember sea temperatures are still very cold. The call comes as the charity’s lifeguards return to the region’s beaches on Good Friday (30 March).
In 2017, RNLI lifeguards across the south-west dealt with 7,962 incidents while the charity’s volunteer crews launched 1,266 times.
Steve Instance, RNLI Community Safety Partner for the south-west, says:
‘RNLI lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crew across the south-west are dedicated to providing a professional rescue service to those who need it and last year, together assisted 11,227 people.
‘Despite their commitment, tragically in the UK and Ireland, at least one person dies from drowning each day. We believe that one drowning is one too many and we would encourage people to think ahead and to take the necessary precautions to keep them and their family safe at the coast.’
Around half of those who die at the coast find themselves in the water unexpectedly, often as a result of slips, trips or falls, meaning they weren’t properly prepared to get wet. To prevent this happening, it is crucial people plan their activity, but also think about what they’d do in an emergency should something unexpected happen.
Check the weather and tide conditions and make sure your equipment is all in working order. Carry a means of calling for help should something go wrong; know your capabilities and make sure you wear the necessary safety equipment.
If you see someone in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 (or 112) and ask for the Coastguard. Do not enter the water yourself.
‘If you’re planning to get in the water, take advantage of the RNLI lifeguard service being offered this Easter across a number of beaches in the south-west, where the team of lifeguards will be able to advise and keep you safe. If you are feeling brave enough for a swim we’d recommend wearing a wetsuit at this time of year to stay warmer, and always swim or bodyboard between the red and yellow flags where the lifeguards are watching.’
Sixteen beaches across the south-west will be patrolled by RNLI lifeguards for the two week Easter school holidays (30 March to 15 April) and then on weekends throughout April until the season starts on 5 May. These include Widemouth and Summerleaze.
The lifeguard service on Croyde beach in Devon started on 24 March. Fistral, Sennen and Portmeor in Cornwall will have full-time lifeguard cover from Friday 30 March.
In addition to RNLI lifeguard cover, volunteer lifeguards from St Agnes Surf Life Saving Club will be providing patrols on St Agnes beach from Saturday 31 March to Sunday 8 April.
To find out how you can stay safe while enjoying your water activity, visit RespectTheWater.com