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RNLI hopes to roll out lifeguard cover in Cornwall over summer

RNLI hopes to roll out lifeguard cover in Cornwall over summer

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 10:00am 9th May 2020.

In normal circumstances, a bank holiday weekend would be one of Cornwall’s busiest for water-based activity of every kind.

But in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the pressure on the emergency services, people are being urged not to go in the sea.

The RNLI and Cornwall Council are advising the public that they should not take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea.

This is to reduce the risk to the lifesaving charity’s volunteer crews and other emergency services being exposed to Covid-19, and the pressure on their time.

Lifeguard patrols did not take up their usual posts along our coast at the end of March due to the coronavirus restrictions.

It is hoped that cover will be reintroduced to around 30% of the south west's beaches over the summer, if government guidance allows.

The plan is for the service to build in time so that lifeguard patrols reach 70 beaches by peak season. There is no indication yet on when this might start though.

The RNLI will also look to achieve a geographical spread while making sure the service provided is flexible and sustainable enough to respond to what may be an ever-changing environment.

For the time being their familiar flags marking safe bathing areas, unsafe conditions, and their reassuring Lifeguards in vehicles and lookouts, are missing from the Cornish seascape and our coastal tourist attractions.

RNLI lifeguard -credit Nigel Millard-RNLI

"Despite these challenges, and given enough notice of lockdown lifting, we’re hoping to put lifeguard patrols on around 70 beaches across the UK and Channel Islands.

"We are planning for a service that we can adapt to changes in Government guidelines and restrictions. We don’t know whether people will be allowed to visit beaches, what social distancing restrictions will be in place, or whether we’ll have periods where restrictions are relaxed and then reintroduced.  We’re also looking at how we provide our lifeguard service – we may have a more agile service that can adapt to changing circumstances – so it may look a little different to previous years. And we’re working with local councils, landowners and partners to make sure the environment lifeguards return to is safe and appropriate precautions are in place."

"While the main challenge of rolling out a lifeguard service will be logistical, as a charity we do also need to consider the financial challenge we currently face and our fall in income due to restrictions on how we can fund raise."

"The reduced lifeguard service will continue to be supported by our lifeboat stations around the coast", Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive continues.

"Our lifeboat volunteers have been on call 24/7 to help those in trouble at sea throughout the coronavirus outbreak – and will continue to be so this summer."

"We will also be giving water safety advice throughout the summer. During the coronavirus outbreak we have seen great examples of people coming together, so our focus is to work with the public to succeed in ensuring the coast is a safe place to visit when restrictions are lifted."

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive 

rnli lifeguards

RNLI safety advice:

If you are able to visit the coast for your daily exercise, while adhering to Government advice, RNLI urge you to remember the following RNLI safety advice:

  • Take care near cliffs - know your route and your limitations
  • Check the weather forecast and tide times
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float
  • In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard

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