Head for a beach with lifeguards and stay safe - RNLI urges beach users

PUBLISHED: 14:00 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:16 10 June 2010

RNLI lifeguards are urging beach goers to brush up on their beach safety.

RNLI lifeguards are urging beach goers to brush up on their beach safety.

This weekend marks the start of the RNLI lifeguard peak summer season, when the charity's lifeguards will be out in force to provide safety patrols on 87 beaches in the south west - including Exmouth and Sandy Bay.

As the RNLI's latest research reveals that safety is bottom of the list when it comes to choosing a beach, the charity is urging beach-goers to choose a lifeguarded beach to help keep themselves and their family safe this summer.

Just five per cent of people surveyed chose a beach for its safety features.

According to the research 'Been to that beach before' is the top reason for beach choice, with 35 per cent of respondents citing this as the main influencing factor.

Of those surveyed, 45 per cent visit a beach because it's nearby, clean, or has good surf.

Steve Instance, RNLI Divisional Inspector for lifeguards in the south, said: "These findings are very concerning - safety should be a key consideration for the public when choosing which beach to visit, especially families and groups with children.

"RNLI lifeguards in the south west saved more than 60 lives and helped 9,505 people on 66 of the UK's busiest beaches last year alone, which shows how important it is for people to take beach safety seriously.

"Many people equate beach cleanliness with beach safety, but this does not take into account 'invisible' hazards such as tides, currents and offshore winds.

"With the holiday season upon us, we want people to enjoy their time at the beach. By prioritising safety and choosing a lifeguarded beach, people are significantly reducing the risks associated with using the water and can feel assured that they have fully-trained lifeguards on hand to help out should they get into difficulties."

This year, the RNLI charity is increasing its lifeguard presence in the south west and from Saturday 12 July will have lifeguards on 87 of the busiest beaches across the region.

The RNLI's guide to beach safety, On the Beach, is available free-of-charge by emailing beachsafety@rnli.org.uk or calling 0800 328 0600.

Copies will also be available from most RNLI lifeboat stations, RNLI lifeguards, Tourist Information Centres, service stations, Little Chef restaurants and selected tourist attractions.

Those wishing to identify their nearest lifeguarded beach should visit www.goodbeachguide.co.uk. Provided by the Marine Conservation Society, in partnership with the RNLI, the site provides comprehensive information on the safety provision and facilities at beaches around the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The RNLI's website, www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety, also has plenty of practical advice and tips on how to stay safe.

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