RNLI offers safety advice to beach goers as temperatures rise

RNLI offers safety advice to beach goers as temperatures rise
Porthcurno beach last week. Photo courtesy of RNLI Sam Hawken

RNLI lifeguards are gearing up for a busy weekend across the south west’s beaches with temperatures predicted to be in the mid to high 20s. Crowds are expected to be heading to the coast and the charity is encouraging beachgoers to heed the RNLI’s water safety advice and adhere to social distancing

“The beaches across the whole of the south west are extremely busy at the moment with both locals who are holidaying at home this year and an influx of visitors to the region. The sheer volume of people making social distancing tricky is one thing to be conscious of before planning your trip to the beach,” says Kitty Norman, RNLI Water Safety Delivery Support.

“Checking the tide times is advised – as the tide comes in, it reduces the available space for people to spread out and leads to beaches getting more crowded,” continues Norman. “While the lifeguards are very approachable and always available to provide information or safety advice, please do respect a 2-metre distance for their safety.”

Crowded Porthminster beach last weekend. Image courtesy of RNLI Ollie Shilston

Bathers and bodyboarders caught in rip currents, going out of their depth, and being cut off by the incoming tide, are the main causes of incidents RNLI lifeguards have been dealing with across the region, with 30 rescues in one day on just one beach in Cornwall last week. 

With large tides still present this weekend, the tide will flood in quickly, increasing the amount of water moving around and enhancing the risk of stronger rip currents.

“Rip current rescues are the most common incident the lifeguards deal with on our beaches, the strong currents can quickly sweep bathers out of their depth, which is when panic sets in,” says RNLI Water Safety Lead in the south west, Steve Instance. “Please use a beach with a lifeguard patrol, keep an eye on your family members and take a moment before arriving at the beach to understand, not just what rip currents are, but how to react if you are caught in one or see someone else in trouble.”

The RNLI’s key safety advice if caught in a rip current:

  • Don’t try to swim against it, you will quickly get exhausted

  • If you can stand, wade don’t swim

  • If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore

  • If you can’t swim – FLOAT to live by leaning back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing

  • Always raise your hand and shout for help

  • If you see anyone else in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

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