RNLI lifeguards in the South West put their wetsuits back into store from 5pm on 31st October 2021 not returning to beaches until Spring 2022. The RNLI is now once again reminding people using the coast over winter to take extra care and heed safety advice.
At this time of year the weather conditions are becoming more severe bringing strong winds and bigger, more powerful surf. This safety warning comes after a very busy October half-term week where beaches in the region continued to see high visitor numbers and the lifeguard and lifeboat crews performing multiple rescues to people getting into difficulty in the water.
RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews will continue to be on call 365 days a year ready to respond to emergencies. To avoid putting yourself and our volunteers at risk please heed the following safety advice this winter.
Always check tides, weather and sea conditions and be realistic about your level of ability. Winter is not the time to push your limits. Avoid going in the water alone. If you are planning to go for a kayak, surf or swim, always go with someone, have someone on the shore or at least let somebody know where you will be and what time you expect to be back.
If you are an inexperienced water user, avoid isolated beaches that have a reduced footfall so if you do get into difficulty, there is a chance someone will see you and raise the alarm. Also take note of the signage at the entrance to the beach which should indicate any localised hazards. If in doubt, ask a local for advice.
Always wear appropriate equipment, this includes a winter wetsuit, wetsuit hood, boots and gloves – the colder you get, the weaker your body will become, increasing your risk of getting into difficulty. We’d also suggest having warm clothing, a hot drink and a woolly hat for afterwards.
If you find yourself in trouble never abandon your craft it will keep you afloat until help arrives.
If you see somebody in difficulty, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Stay on scene until they arrive as this will aid the rescue, but please do not attempt to rescue them yourself. To find out more about the RNLI’s safety advice please visit: https://rnli.org/safety
Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim ONLY between the red and yellow flags
If you get into trouble at any time of year – with the first cold water shock feeling
FLOAT TO LIVE BY lying on your back and relaxing
RESIST THE FIRST NATURAL URGE to thrash about in the water
If you see someone in trouble Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard
RNLI Lifeguards use the flags pictured below along the water line on the beaches where they patrol – it is really important you know exactly what they mean.
Please keep watch for any change the lifeguards may make to the flags during your stay on the beach – weather, wind and sea conditions can change very quickly.
Please don’t ever disregard the flags – they are there for your own and others safety.
***Please also take note and try to remember – FLOAT TO LIVE
As well as the hands on day to day activities and presence of RNLI Lifeguards on our beaches, alongside the RNLI Community Safety Teams, the objectives are to play their part fully in the RNLI’s bid to halve accidental drownings in the UK by 2024.
And also to continue advancing the RNLI message “Respect the Water”