RNLI urges coastal visitors to stay safe as lifeguard patrols come to and end

LIFEGUARD patrols of nine South West beaches, including Lyme Regis, will come to an end today (Sunday) as visitor numbers reduce. 

The RNLI will still be providing a lifeguard service on more than 50 beaches across the South West this month, more than in previous years after the peak summer season.

Members of the public are being urged by the charity to take extra care and be responsible when visiting the beach by knowing their limits and not taking any risks.

If intending to use the water, people are encouraged to head to one of the lifeguarded beaches but to maintain social distancing, and if that’s not possible, consider spending your day elsewhere.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges posed by lockdown restrictions earlier in the year, the RNLI has worked with local authorities and other partners to provide lifeguards on more than 70% of South West beaches this summer.

RNLI lifeguards have adapted to new protocols this season because of the pandemic to protect themselves and the public from the virus. This has included wearing PPE, enhanced cleaning of equipment and maintaining a 2 metre distance from others while carrying out their role.

Nine beaches in the South West will lower their flags and pack their equipment away for the final time at 6pm today (Sunday, September 6) after what has been a very busy season for RNLI lifeguards, as more people holidayed at home this summer and visited the South West.

Lifeguard patrols will close at the following South West beaches today:

  • Burnham-on-Sea (Somerset)
  • Lyme Regis (Dorset)
  • West Bay (Dorset)
  • Dawlish Warren (Devon)
  • Teignmouth North (Devon)
  • Blackpool Sands (Devon)
  • Millrock – part of Woolacombe beach (Devon)
  • Exmouth (Devon)
  • Crackington Haven (Cornwall)

In Jersey, lifeguard patrols on Plemont and Greve de Lecq will be finishing on Sunday, September 13.

The rest of the lifeguarded beaches in the South West and Jersey will be providing a lifeguard service until at least Sunday, September 27, with all beaches due to operate up to, or beyond, their season end date in a ‘normal’ year.

Tom Mansell, regional lifesaving lead, said: “It has been an extremely busy summer for RNLI lifeguards with huge numbers of people visiting beaches in the South West.

“Our lifeguards have worked really hard and have done a fantastic job of keeping people safe at the beach whilst working during a pandemic. They deserve great credit for the commitment and dedication they have shown.

‘‘We know many people are still on furlough and not holidaying abroad, so it’s likely more people than usual will be visiting the coast in September and October.

“If you’re visiting the beach, please head to a lifeguarded one if possible, 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.”

If you’re planning a visit to the coast, please follow our safety advice:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep your dog on a lead when around cliff edges
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Do not allow your family to swim 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

RNLI lifeboat crews have been operating throughout the pandemic and continue to be on call 24/7 ready to respond to emergencies when their pager goes off, including in Lyme Regis.

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