As the school summer holidays come to an end, it’s the last day for the RNLI lifeguards on Swanage Beach, as the service finishes for the season this Sunday, 6th September 2020.
Now beachgoers are being urged by the charity to take extra care and be responsible when visiting the coast by knowing their limits and not taking risks.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges posed by lockdown restrictions earlier in the year, the RNLI was able in the end to work with local authorities and other partners to provide lifeguards on 177 beaches, including Swanage, across the UK this summer.
Adapt to new protocols including wearing PPE
But everything was far from normal with the RNLI lifeguards having to adapt to new protocols including wearing PPE, enhanced cleaning of equipment and maintaining a two metre distance from others while carrying out their role.
Over the summer, the lifeguards have had to deal with a whole range of things, from sea rescues, to first aid incidents and lost children.
In July, on Swanage Beach, it was the sharp eyed lifeguards who spotted a woman on a paddleboard being blown out to sea. They quickly contacted Swanage Lifeboat Station and the crew was able to rescue her.
Natasha Baker later praised the lifeguard
24 year old Natasha Baker later praised the lifeguard saying that if he hadn’t spotted her through his binoculars, struggling to get back to shore, that she dreaded to think what would have happened to her.
Among the rescues elsewhere in the UK, eight people were brought to safety in Cornwall after getting caught in a rip current, successful CPR was administered to a six-year-old girl in Kent who stopped breathing and two children were rescued in Yorkshire after they were blown off shore on an inflatable.
“Done a fantastic job of keeping people safe”
Pete Rooney, an RNLI Lifesaving Manager, said:
“It has been an extremely busy summer for RNLI lifeguards with huge numbers of people visiting beaches across the UK. Our lifeguards have worked really hard and done a fantastic job of keeping people safe at the beach while working in a pandemic. They deserve great credit for the commitment and dedication they have shown.
“The majority of our lifeguards’ work is preventative so as well as the rescues and incidents they were involved in, they will have stopped many more potentially dangerous incidents before they occurred.’
“We know many people are still on furlough and not holidaying abroad, so it’s likely more people than usual will be visiting the UK coast this September. If you’re visiting the beach, take note of the safety signage at the entrance, go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where you’re going, and always be aware of the conditions and your own capabilities in the water.
“People walking on the coast should check the weather forecast and tide times before setting out and carry a means of communication.”
The RNLI lifeguards are reminding anyone planning a visit to the coast to remember
- 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
While the RNLI lifeguards will be ending their patrol of the beach, the Swanage Lifeboat crew continues to be on call, ready to respond to emergencies at any time of the day or night.