Beach safety campaign launched as Swanage RNLI rescue jet skier and anglers

The RNLI and HM Coastguard are warning that people should take extra care in these extraordinary times, as there aren’t any lifeguards on beaches, including Swanage Bay, due to the challenges posed by the pandemic and social distancing.

This Bank Holiday weekend, it’s expected that Swanage Beach will be busier with more people taking part in water sports, following the recent easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions, the promise of warm weather and with children still off school.

Rnli and hm coastguard beach safety campaign poster

RNLI and HM Coastguard beach safety poster launch

This is why, without lifeguards to help prevent accidents, the RNLI and the coastguard are urging everyone to follow its beach safety advice including warning them not to use inflatables.

This is to help keep people safe and assist in reducing the demands placed on the volunteer lifeboat crews, coastguard and other emergency services.

Swanage Lifeboat called out twice in four days

The Swanage Lifeboat has been called out twice in four days. The first shout last Sunday 17th May 2020 was to rescue a jet skier and on Wednesday 20th May 2020, the lifeboat had to tow a small angling boat with two fishing enthusiasts back to Poole Harbour after their outboard motor failed.

Swanage Lifeboat towing an angling boat
Don Williams

Swanage Lifeboat tows anglers back to Poole Harbour

UK Coastguard rescue teams called out 194 times

Across the UK, last weekend alone, coastguard rescue teams were called out 194 times to incidents including; inflatables drifting offshore, crashed jet skis, people injured while out walking or cycling along the coast, paddleboarders, kayakers, windsurfers and kite surfers in difficulty and people cut off by the tide.

Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said:

“If the charity’s lifeguards were present on the beaches today, they would be preventing many incidents before they even occurred by directing people to safe swimming areas, highlighting dangers such as rip currents and advising people not to use inflatables. These preventive measures are not currently in place, meaning people could find themselves in danger if they are not reading the signs and following the relevant safety advice.

He added:

“Our lifeguards are trained to swim 200 metres within three and a half minutes and although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, they won’t be able to reach you in the same time.”

Swanage lifeboat
Don Williams

Swanage Lifeboat rescuing anglers when their outboard motor failed

“Take extra care in these extraordinary times.”

Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said:

“We know from sad experience that whether you’re local or nor, whatever your ability of experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does. Now, more than ever we need people to respect the sea and the coast.

“If you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the coastguard and we will come to your aid. But coronavirus hasn’t gone away, and we all need to follow the rules. Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.”

Beach safety advice

Alongside advising the public not to use inflatables at all, the RNLI and HM Coastguard are asking everyone to follow this 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

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