RNLI lifeguards are set to return to one beach in North Devon this weekend.

Lifeguards will resume patrols at Croyde on Saturday (May 30) in what is the first phase of the RNLI’s lifeguard service roll out.

Croyde is the only beach in Devon to receive lifeguard cover at this stage, with patrols also starting at seven beaches in Cornwall.

The challenges posted by the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing means only 30 per cent of beaches the charity usually covers will have lifeguards on them.

It hopes to have those beaches covered by the peak summer season, with the remaining beaches to be covered confirmed ‘as soon as possible’.

The pandemic and social distancing measures means the lifeguards will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in some situations, and new protocols mean they may not deal with some minor first aid cases, instead supporting people to treat themselves.

They will also be trying to keep socially distant from beach goers, and may have to adopt different patrol methods, such as not using red and yellow flags, but instead asking people to keep apart but close to the shore.

David Page, RNLI Lifesaving Manager, said: “As ever, the welfare of our staff and beach visitors along with our commitment to providing a responsible lifesaving service is the RNLI’s priority and so we have been working closely with local authorities and landowners to make sure that conditions are safe for our lifeguards to provide an effective service.

“Our lifeguards have a vital role in making sure visitors to the beach are aware of their surroundings, the potential dangers at the beach and providing a lifesaving rescue service should anyone get into trouble.

“We would encourage the public to follow the Government’s advice on social distancing and take care to understand the risks at the coast and the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.”

The charity is urging anyone planning to visit the coast to make sure they follow safety advice to keep themselves and their families safe.

People are advised to check the weather forecast and tide times and read local hazard signage, and parents are asked to keep a close eye on their families on the beach and in the water.

Parents are also urged not to let members of their family swim alone, and people should not be using inflatables.

Those who fall into the water unexpectedly are advised to float by leaning back and extending their arms and legs.

In an emergency, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.