The RNLI is advising people to take care around the South West coastline this autumn as lifeguard cover officially comes to an end on Sunday (30 September).
As lifeguards prepare to pack up for the winter, the charity will maintain patrols at weekends and half term in October on the region’s 12 busiest beaches. This weekend (Sunday 30 September) sees the official end of the RNLI lifeguard season in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Jersey. Lifeguard cover will continue on 12 of the busiest beaches across the region during weekends in October and throughout the school half term break. These beaches include Praa Sands, Gwithian, Porthmeor, Porthtowan, Perranporth, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze in Cornwall and Bantham, Croyde and Woolacombe in Devon.
For the second year running Fistral will have full time cover during October and will also be patrolled during weekends in November by volunteer lifeguards.
RNLI Lifeguard Inspector Steve Instance says;
“This year has been another busy season for RNLI lifeguards on beaches around the south west as the teams have dealt with a range of incidents from major and minor first aids, lost children, and numerous rescues of people in difficulty in the water. Thanks to additional funding from local authorities and private beach owners, the charity is again able to extend the lifeguard season into October on a selection of beaches providing safety cover for those looking to prolong the summer season and enjoy the favourable surf conditions that autumn brings. We encourage people heading to the coast at weekends and during half term to visit these beaches where the charity’s lifesavers will be on hand to keep people safe, offering useful advice to help prevent accidents and a rapid reaction if something does go wrong”.
The charity’s volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews remain on call 24 hours a day ready to respond to anyone in difficulty around the coast.
It is essential that people are aware of the dangers and know how to look after themselves in the water to prevent incidents.
We’d recommend that people take note of the safety signage at the entrance to the beach, always go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where they are going and be aware of the conditions and their own capabilities in the water.
If water users should find themselves in difficulty they should keep hold of their surf or bodyboard as it’ll help keep them afloat. Walkers should also find out about the local tide times and avoid visiting more remote parts of the shoreline when the tide is coming in.
More beach safety advice can be found at www.rnli.org.uk
The deaths by drowning this summer have highlighted the risks of swimming in open sea. The death this week of a woman who drowned when wading into the sea to save her young sons on a Cornish beach is the latest in a summer that has been punctuated by drownings, at home and abroad. Twelve British people, seven of them children, have drowned in the past month alone. It is too early to say whether they have been more numerous than usual, and different types of incidents are being conflated, but what is certain is that the rip current that appears to have caused the tragic accident in Cornwall should sound the alarm to all of us who blithely enter the sea unaware of its dangers. A rip current occurs where water receding from a beach finds a channel through which it can make a more rapid exit. Water rushes through that channel at speeds of up to 8ft per second, too fast for even the most adept swimmer to combat. Some rip currents, called “topographically controlled rips” and shaped by headlands or groynes, are permanent features. Potentially more dangerous are rips that occur on open beaches when water cuts a channel in a sandbar. Their unpredictability can be deadly.
“Rips will move, and what may be a perfectly safe place one day will not be safe the next day,” says Peter Dawes, head of lifeguards at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. He says you can sometimes see a rip from an elevated position overlooking a beach – the absence of waves breaking is one sign; white water on either side of a current another – but that in choppy conditions they are hard even for experts to spot.
If you are caught by a rip current and there is no lifeguard on the beach, don’t panic and don’t try to swim against it. Swim laterally at first to get out of the rip, which is likely to be fairly narrow. Once you are out of the current, then swim for the shore. If you are not a strong swimmer or if you find you are making no progress, tread water and try to attract attention.
But why risk it? Dawes says the key is prevention. Only swim on beaches with lifeguards (fewer in number now the school holidays are over); quiz them about prevailing conditions; only swim between the safety flags; never swim alone; and don’t let youngsters go in by themselves, even in shallow water. As he points out, we may be on an unfamiliar stretch of coast engaging in a once-a-year activity, so it’s absurd not to take precautions. Go to the Guardian website…
RNLI lifeguards patrolling Croyde rescued eight people yesterday afternoon (Thursday 19 July) after the bathers and bodyboarders were caught in an extremely strong rip current. The group, which included children, were extremely frightened and shocked at the strength of the current and couldn’t get back to shore. Lifeguards on duty were alerted to the incident at approximately 1pm when the tide was at its lowest point of the day. RNLI lifeguard Gary Sinkevicius was on patrol at the shoreline when he noticed some people go outside of the red and yellow flagged bathing area and begin to struggle in a rip current. He responded immediately on a rescue board and paddled out to the scene. He said:
“I passed two adults and children who were also caught in the rip current but were managing so I went straight to a woman and two children who appeared to be in more imminent trouble and were distressed. I took the two children on the board while lifeguard Russell Harrison, who had paddled out on a rescue board to assist, helped the mother. We paddled them to shore and headed straight back out to the scene to help others. In that time lifeguard Jimmy Manley had also helped a man from the rip current and brought him back to shore. Russell and I went back out to two children and an adult and brought them back to the beach. About 30 minutes later I went back out into the water to rescue another man who was struggling.”
RNLI lifeguard supervisor Matthew Whitley, said:
“There was a particularly strong rip current in the middle of Croyde beach yesterday, and unfortunately these people went outside of the bathing zone and got caught in it about 50 metres offshore. The lifeguards responded swiftly to the situation and did a great job in bringing everyone back to shore safely. The casualties were all very shaken up afterwards and grateful of our help. With school summer holidays upon us, and the weather forecast set to improve, the RNLI is offering the following top five beach safety tips to help people remember their seaside trips for the right reasons”. RNLI’s beach safety tips 1. Swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags 2. Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas 3. Check weather and tide times before you go 4. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help 5. If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. For further information on Rip Currents go to the RNLI website…
Children from around the country are being given the chance to learn about the dangers posed by open water this summer thanks to vital life-saving scheme Get Safe 4 Summer. The youngsters are being taught water safety skills at a number of pools from next week as part of Get Safe 4 Summer, an educational and water safety campaign run by the ASA with events supported by Swimathon Foundation.
The ASA’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign is all about raising awareness that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool.
The events teach children about the dangers of open water, as well as highlighting that swimming is the only sport that can save your life. ASA Chief Executive David Sparkes said: “The ability to recognise dangers and knowledge of water safety is just as important as being able to swim. Particularly important during the summer holidays, the ASA’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign is all about raising awareness that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the water but in a safe and sensible way.”
Swimathon Foundation Chairman Anthony Kendall said: ” We are very pleased to support the ASA and The Swimming Trust in teaching youngsters about the importance of swimming and water safety. It is exactly what we, as a Foundation, stand for.”
The events will consist of an action-packed few hours in the water with a host of fun and educational activities. They include attendance from the RLSS who are also running a Water Safety Awareness Week 16th-24th June.
Schools, leisure facilities and swim schools can get involved by holding their own Get Safe 4 Summer event. Supporting resources are available to download online, including a Pool Event Pack with details of what, when and who should be involved, posters and certificates to reward the young people attending. Read more on the ASA website…
As the region gears up for the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, the RNLI lifeguards and the volunteer lifeboat crews in the South West are urging people heading to the coast to heed the charity’s essential safety advice. Despite one of the wettest Aprils on record, the charity that saves lives at sea is expecting a busy Bank Holiday weekend as the RNLI lifeguards start their Summer safety patrols on 34 beaches across Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. Steve Instance, RNLI Divisional Lifeguard Inspector says; “After a two week stint on some of the most popular beaches over the Easter period, the RNLI are now starting their full time patrols for the Summer season. We’re hopeful for some sunshine, but whatever the weather throws at us, we can expect the beaches to be busy as determined visitors and locals enjoy their holiday time. We’d urge beach goers to head to one of the 34 RNLI lifeguarded beaches and to swim and bodyboard in the supervised area marked out by the red and yellow flags. Try and stay within your depth and follow the lifeguard’s advice. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help. If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard, or if you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.”
In particular Steve advises people to check local tide times before setting off to avoid the risk of being cut off. He says;
“Tide times are available through the media, at the local lifeboat stations, harbour offices and at the entrance to all RNLI lifeguarded beaches or by searching your nearest beach online. Always take a means of calling for help in case you should get caught out”. Read more on the RNLI website…