RNLI prepared for busy bank holiday at the coast
RNLI lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews in the south west are preparing themselves for the busy August Bank Holiday as holidaymakers flock to the coast. Last year alone over the bank holiday, volunteer crews at the 35 lifeboat stations in the South
RNLI lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews in the south west are preparing themselves for the busy August Bank Holiday as holidaymakers flock to the coast.
Last year alone over the bank holiday, volunteer crews at the 35 lifeboat stations in the South West launched 52 times, rescuing 75 people. Over the same period, the charity's lifeguards in the region responded to 523 incidents and helped 593 people at the beach.
The charity has released rescue statistics from previous summer bank holidays and is offering sea and beach safety tips ahead of the busy weekend in order to highlight the importance of taking safety seriously when visiting the coast.
"Our advice is founded on the years of experience of RNLI lifeboat crews, who know how unpredictable the weather can be and how quickly things can go wrong at sea," said Keith Colwell, RNLI Sea Safety Manager for the South West.
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"With the prospect of some good weather over the bank holiday weekend, we expect lots of people to be visiting the coast. We always recommend those going boating or enjoying other watersports activities make sure they follow our sea safety tips.
"In particular, we advise that all who go afloat wear a well-fitted lifejacket and know how to operate it should an emergency. A lifejacket is useless unless worn, if it is worn incorrectly or if it is not in full working order.
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Lifeboat crews and lifeguards are used to being busy over the August bank holiday as the coast is a popular choice for people making the most of the extended break. This year, with more people likely to be holidaying in the UK, there is every chance they will be even busier.
Steve Instance, RNLI Divisional Inspector for Lifeguards, added:
"This bank holiday, especially if the weather is good, we fully expect to see lots of people making their way to the coast.
"Sadly, there have been a number of fatalities and serious incidents around the coast already this summer, we hope people will take notice of our advice so they can have fun but stay safe at the same time.
"Beach-goers, particularly those planning to use the water, should choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. Those who can't get to a lifeguarded beach should find out about their chosen beach before they go - check the weather and tide times and take notice of the safety signs at the beach entrance.
"Children should be supervised at all times, especially when in or near the water. Anyone who starts to struggle in the water should stick their hand in the air and shout for help. If they see someone else in trouble, they should call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard, but should not attempt a rescue themselves."
The RNLI advice aims to help prevent incidents from happening in the first place but, should anyone find themselves in trouble in the water, crews and lifeguards will be ready to respond. There are 35 RNLI lifeboat stations around the South West coast, and some 91 RNLI lifeguarded beaches.
Beach patrols operate between 10am-6pm, while the volunteer crews are on-call 24/7 to respond to emergencies at sea.
The RNLI's top five beach safety tips:
1. Always swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags.
2. Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.
3. Check times of high and low tide before you go - to avoid getting stranded.
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 more information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety.
Six RNLI Sea Safety tips:
1. Inform - tell others where you're going.
2. Training - knowledge of your activity is essential.
3. SOS device - carry a means of calling for help.
4. Wear a lifejacket - a life statement, not a fashion statement - wear it.
5. Engine and fuel - have you sufficient fuel and spares?
6. Tides and weather - check the conditions before heading out.
For more information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety.