RNLI crews throughout the South West expect a busy weekend
|Published: 27th August 2009 10:29|
RNLI lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews in the south west are preparing themselves for what is traditionally their busiest weekend of rescues during the year as holidaymakers flock to the region's coast.
Last year alone over the August bank holiday, RNLI volunteer crews at the 35 lifeboat stations in the south west* launched 52 times, rescuing 75 people. Over the same period, the charity's lifeguards in the region responded to 523 incidents and helped 593 people at the beach.
The August bank holiday weekends of the past three years have seen the RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crews in the south west launch 129 times and rescue 173 people, and the charity's lifeguards respond to 1,926 incidents and help 2,452 people.
That's why the charity is releasing rescue statistics from previous summer bank holidays and offering sea and beach safety tips ahead of the busy weekend in order to highlight the importance of taking safety seriously when visiting the coast.
Keith Colwell, the RNLI's Sea Safety Manager for the south west, says; ‘Our advice is founded on the years of experience of RNLI lifeboat crews, who know how unpredictable the weather can be and how quickly things can go wrong at sea. With the prospect of some good weather over the bank holiday weekend, we expect lots of people to be visiting the coast.
We always recommend that those going boating or enjoying other watersports activities make sure they follow our sea safety tips. In particular, we advise that all who go afloat wear a well-fitted lifejacket and know how to operate it should an emergency. A lifejacket is useless unless worn, if it is worn incorrectly or if it is not in full working order.
‘Some boat owners think they will never be able to fit all the safety equipment we recommend, but this week at the Dartmouth Regatta we will be using Evelyn M Murdoch to prove that it is possible to carry the safety gear you need for going afloat, even in a small boat.'
The charity's lifeboat crews and lifeguards are used to being busy over the August bank holiday as the coast is a popular choice for people making the most of the extended break. This year, with more people likely to be holidaying in the UK, there is every chance they will be even busier, which is why the charity wants to ensure people visiting the coast in the south west are aware of the potential hazards when using the sea, so they can try to keep themselves safe.
There are 35 RNLI lifeboat stations around the south west's coast, and over 91 RNLI lifeguarded beaches in the south west (Cornwall, Devon and Dorset). The lifeguards operate beach patrols between 10am and 6pm, while the volunteer crews are on-call 24/7 to respond to emergencies at sea.
The RNLI's top five beach safety tips
- Always swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags
- Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas
- Check times of high and low tide before you go - to avoid getting stranded
- If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help
- If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can't see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
For more information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety
Six RNLI Sea Safety tips: remember - IT'S WET:
- Inform - tell others where you're going
- Training - knowledge of your activity is essential
- SOS device - carry a means of calling for help
- Wear a lifejacket - a life statement, not a fashion statement - wear it
- Engine and fuel - have you sufficient fuel and spares?
- Tides and weather - check the conditions before heading out
For more information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety