Lifeguards to start patrols in Lyme Regis next month

Last year’s RNLI lifeguard team pictured on Lyme Regis beach (photo by Alice Higgins)

LIFEGUARDS will be back patrolling Lyme Regis beach from July 4.

Since announcing the intention to be on more than 70% of beaches across the South West by the beginning of July, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, RNLI teams have been working hard to establish the service and have now released the final list of South West beaches which will be lifeguarded.

The announcement comes as warmer weather and large swell is forecast for the coming week, and the charity is urging surfers and beach goers to heed safety advice.

RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling the following beaches from this Saturday (June 27): Kennack, Gyllyngvase, Godrevy, Gwithian South, Upton Towans, Beachview, Porthminster, Gwenver, Porthcurno, Porthcothan, Boobys, and Trevone in Cornwall; and Dawish Warren and Teignmouth North in Devon.

From Saturday, July 4 patrols will start on: Seaton, Tregantle, Crantock, Towan, Porth, Tolcarne, St Agnes, Perran Sands, and Sandymouth in Cornwall; Westward Ho!, Sandymere, Sandy Bay, Blackpool Sands, and Challaborough in Devon; Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset; and Lyme Regis and West Bay in Dorset.

Crackington Haven in Bude will be lifeguarded from July 9.

The lifeguard hut has already been set up on Lyme’s main sandy beach in preparation for patrols to begin. The beach is only usually patrolled during the main summer seasons so has not missed out on any lifeguard cover due to the coronavirus pandemic, unlike some other areas.

The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Brian Larcombe MBE, has welcomed news that the lifeguard service will resume for the summer season.

He said: “Naturally the RNLI had to review its beach service because of the lockdown restrictions and operational challenges COVID-19 placed on its resources and ways of working, and it was absolutely right that first priority was given to the most dangerous surf beaches in Devon and Cornwall.

“Lyme has a lifeboat station within yards of its main front beach and by comparison doesn’t have the kind of bathing sea conditions that would place it in Devon and Cornwall’s first priority grouping.

“However, now that the government announcements have eased COVID-19 measures and we are likely to see something approaching the start of a summer season, albeit a ‘new norm’ with the required social distancing and other restrictions remaining in place, it will result in raised numbers of visitors and holiday makers than of late and they will want to enter the sea.

“Who wouldn’t, given the fantastic weather we’ve had in recent months? So, we welcome the lifeguard beach service back to Lyme for the main summer season we’re about to have.”

Guy Botterill RNLI area lifesaving manager in the South West, said: “The charity have been providing a lifeguard service on a limited number of beaches since the beginning of June which has enabled us to thoroughly test the new ways of working, PPE, staffing and new equipment as a result of coronavirus. Despite the continuing challenges created by the pandemic, we are now confident we can provide a safe, comprehensive lifeguard service this summer.

“It has taken a lot of hard work by the whole team, especially our RNLI lifeguard supervisors and technicians, but we are really pleased to be able to provide safety cover on over 70% of the beaches we’d usually cover by the beginning of July.”

In order to ensure the safety of both our lifeguards and the public at this time, the charity has provided lifeguards with the appropriate PPE and enhanced training supporting the new operating procedures and precautions that must be taken in order to manage the challenges of coronavirus, in addition to the other demands of their role.

This means the public may notice that the lifeguard service looks 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.

Mr Botterill continued: “With the large surf conditions forecast coupled with spring tides, rips currents will be stronger than normal. We are urging surfers and bathers to not enter the water alone, always go to a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguards and local surfers for advice.

“With the summer solstice in full swing it will be light until 10pm for the next couple of weeks so please be careful if you are surfing or swimming outside of lifeguarded hours. Know your limits and know what to do if you are caught in a rip current or get into difficulty. Keep hold of your board or floatation device and paddle parallel to the shore.”

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
  • Do not allow your family to swim or surf alone
  • Do not 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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