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RNLI lifeguards return to seven beaches in Cornwall today

RNLI lifeguards return to seven beaches in Cornwall today

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:00am 30th May 2020.

People are being urged to take care on the coast as RNLI lifeguards return to seven beaches in Cornwall.

Recent hot weather and easing of lockdown has led to thousands of people flocking to beaches and a busy period for the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew.

Last weekend, two people tragically lost their lives in incidents in the Cornish coast. A surfer also suffered serious injuries in a third incident.

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

The reminder comes as the RNLI begins the first phase of its lifeguard service roll out, with patrols starting on Saturday 30th May.

Lifeguards will be at the following beaches in Cornwall:

  • Gwithian
  • Fistral
  • Mawgan Porth
  • Polzeath
  • Constantine
  • Perranporth
  • Widemouth

There will also be patrols at Croyde in Devon.

RNLI Lifeguard Credit RNLI Nathan Williams

"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.’ 

            David Page, RNLI Lifesaving Manager

Despite the challenges posed by coronavirus and social distancing, the RNLI hopes to provide a lifeguard service on around 30% of the beaches the charity usually covers in time for the traditional peak summer season. The remainder of these beaches will be confirmed as soon as possible. 

Since the easing of restrictions, the charity has focussed on re-establishing the infrastructure required for the lifeguard service – something made more complicated by the charity’s responsibility to make sure lifeguards are operating safely during a pandemic. During a normal summer, this takes time and includes recruitment, training, and the ordering and distributing of equipment and facilities to beaches. 

This year, the charity also had to ensure lifeguards are equipped with the appropriate PPE and have received training and support in new operating procedures and precautions needed to manage the challenges of coronavirus alongside the other demands of their role.

This means the lifeguard service will look a little different this year. Lifeguards will wear PPE similar to ambulance crews in some situations. New protocols for all first responders mean the lifeguards may not deal with some minor first aid cases but will support people to treat themselves. They will also try to keep socially distant from beach goers, and may need to adopt different patrol methods at times, such as not using the red and yellow flags and asking people to keep apart but close to shore, to help keep people safe while maintaining social distancing.

Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember and follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Have a plan - check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone
  • Don’t use inflatables
  • 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 an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard
RNLI lifeguard -credit Nigel Millard-RNLI

‘Over the coming weeks and days we remind everyone that personal safety and social distancing are paramount, and if good weather means your chosen beach and its car park are crowded please turn around and go elsewhere.

"We cannot bear more tragedies like those on Bank Holiday Monday, so, whether lifeguarded or not, everyone should always treat our seas with caution and respect. Read signs, check weather forecasts and sea conditions, and observe flags.

"But if in doubt, you and your family are always safest on the sand. Also, facilities such as public toilets, cafes and shops are not yet open, so plan accordingly. We ask everyone to look out for each other, as Cornwall has done throughout this crisis. We also thank our lifeguards and lifeboat crews for bravely protecting Cornwall for 160 years. In Cornwall alone they saved 55 lives last year.’ 

             Cllr Rob Nolan, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection on Cornwall Council

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