Barry Heathfield, Lifeguard Manager gives his advice and tips for staying safe at the beach this weekend.
With warm weather predicted for the next few days it's likely that locals and holiday makers alike will head to the coast to make the most of the sunshine and top up their fading tans. Last year nearly 18 million people visited RNLI lifeguarded beaches and if the sun continues to make an appearance, I hope we'll be welcoming similar numbers again this year. After all, on a warm day there is nowhere more appealing than being by the sea!
Picture credit - Nigel Millard.
The weather may be warm, but the water is still cold and unpredictable at this time of the year. That's one of the reasons we have lifeguards on beaches around the coast of the UK, and have done for the last 13 years. So if you do head to the beach, my number one tip would be to go to a lifeguarded one. If you are going to take the plunge, do so between the red and yellow flags (the area the lifeguards are keeping a close eye on), make sure you're wearing a good wetsuit or drysuit, go with other people and keep an eye on each other. Keeping warm in cold water can take a lot of energy, so fatigue can be an issue, plus watch out for the wind chill factor - even a slight breeze can have a dramatic effect on how cold it feels
If you're unsure of anything whilst at the beach, please pop by your nearest lifeguard hut and say hello to the lifeguards. They're a friendly bunch and always happy to help if you're not sure of the sea temperature or conditions, or just want to say 'hi' and get some basic safety advice while at the coast.
Last year our highly trained lifeguards attended 19,595 incidents, helped 21,938 people and saved 100 lives and they will be on hand to do the same this year, whenever they are needed.
It's not just those in the sea that may get into trouble; if you are heading to the coast in any capacity, be it kayaking or fishing, please take care. Check tidal times and read the local signage, it will let you know of any dangers you should be aware of and help avoid ending your day out prematurely.
Finally, if you do get in to trouble in the sea for any reason raise your hand, stay calm and shout for help. If you are able to, call 999 and ask for the coastguard. If you spot anyone in trouble please do not go in after them - call 999 and ask for the coastguard. They will get someone who can help as quickly as possible.
We're really lucky in the UK to have such a beautiful coastline and I hope as many people as possible can enjoy our wonderful beaches this summer. By being aware of the dangers I hope it helps people avoid potential risks and enjoy their time on the coast with peace of mind, but our lifeguards and lifeboat crews are always here to help if anything happens.
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