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RNLI launch campaign due to increase in visitors this summer

IN light of stark figures which reveal 30 million people are planning to hit the coasts across the UK this summer, the RNLI in Wales is taking steps to ensure their safety.

With uncertainty over foreign holidays and international travel, the RNLI is predicting this summer will be the busiest ever on the Welsh coast, as Covid restrictions are eased and people choose to ‘staycation’.

The lifesaving charity and HM Coastguard urges people to choose lifeguarded beaches when they visit the coast, with the campaign launched ahead of the bank holiday weekend and half term.

The charity has also teamed up with experts at Bangor University to collaborate and explore the best ways to keep people safe.

This weekend lifeguards in Wales will return to their posts at Rhyl and Prestatyn in Denbighshire, Rest Bay in Bridgend, Pembrey in Carmarthenshire, Newgale Central in Pembrokeshire.

In Ceredigion, RNLI lifeguards are currently providing a service at weekends at Llangrannog and at Borth, this will become a regular daily service from the half term holiday running until September. Lifeguards will also provide cover over the school holidays at Aberystwyth South, Tresaith and Aberporth.

In a survey, commissioned by the RNLI, 75% of those questioned – aged 16-64 – expect to visit a UK beach or the coast between April and September, with around half of that number likely to do so three or more times.

A significantly higher proportion of the public (36%) also said they plan to visit the coast more than usual this year, compared to 2020 (24%).

Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead in Wales says:

“We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews in Wales and the survey figures back that up. With its stunning scenery and spectacular beaches, we are certain people will flock to the Welsh coastline and want people to enjoy it.

“We do however urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.

“Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.

“RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

“Whether you’re at a lifeguarded beach or not, look out for safety signage and seek advice on safe places to swim, keep your children under supervision at all times, avoid swimming alone where possible and know to alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for Coastguard in an emergency.

“Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but they can be an unpredictable environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up but water temperatures remain very cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.”

The key summer safety advice is:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • Call 999 or 112 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

Not everyone who finds themselves in trouble in the water, expected to even get wet. RNLI statistics for Wales show people enjoying a walk and getting cut off by the tide caused almost 10 per cent of all RNLI lifeboat launches over the last decade – more than double the UK average.

Lifeguards rescue hundreds more stranded people every year.

For this reason the RNLI has teamed up with experts at Bangor University to gain a better understanding of people’s understanding of tides and the associated risks at the coast.

As part of a long-term project, the lifesaving charity and leading Welsh university will shortly launch a survey to gain a better understanding of people’s knowledge to be able to effectively explore the appropriate interventions.

With bigger than usual tides this Bank Holiday weekend, the RNLI is hopeful people will take heed of specialist advice.

For further information on the beach safety campaign visit: RNLI.org/BeachUK2021. 

A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found here: rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches.

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