People are being urged to only visit lifeguarded beaches this Friday and Saturday (August 21 and 22) with dangerous sea conditions expected on the North Devon coast.

Exposed coastal areas in Devon and Cornwall are expected to see wave heights of six-to-nine feet, with strong south-westerly winds forecast across the region.

The conditions, alongside large spring tides increase the risk of strong rip currents.

The RNLI and Coastguard have issued a joint appeal for people to take extra care and only visit lifeguarded beaches, such as Croyde, Woolacombe, Westward Ho! or Sandymere in North Devon and Torridge.

If those beaches have red flags, people should not enter the water.

Steve Instance, RNLI water safety lead for the south west said: “When we experience conditions such as this, especially during the summer when the region is busy with visitors, it is incredibly important that those heading to the coast keep themselves safe by choosing a lifeguarded beach and visiting within the patrol hours of 10am-6pm.

“With changeover days for holidaymakers on Fridays and Saturdays, those arriving to the area may not be up to date with local news and forecasts so could be caught unaware of the conditions.

“RNLI lifeguards are there to offer advice so if you are unsure about anything, make sure you ask a lifeguard. They will be able to provide information on tide times and guide you to the safest area to swim which will be between the red and yellow flags.

“Anyone surfing should know their limits and always stay within the black and white flagged area.”

HM Coastguard director Claire Hughes added: “We’ve seen so many times how easy it is to get caught out by the sea.

“Make sure you are always contactable at the coast by carrying a fully-charged mobile phone and if you get into trouble or see someone else in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”