The RNLI is issuing an urgent safety warning to coastal visitors as its lifeguards return to four more beaches in Norfolk this weekend.
The charity is stepping up its lifesaving service to coincide with the further easing of Government restrictions on the tourism and hospitality industries. This weekend, professional lifeguard patrols will be on more than 160 beaches in England, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, including at Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham West, Mundesley and Hemsby. These services add to those at Cromer East, Sea Palling and Gorleston, which went live in June.
The RNLI is also issuing a new safety warning to all beachgoers, following a spike in call-outs since lockdown measures were eased. Of particular concern is the number of people requiring rescue after being cut off by the tide. During May and June, the charity was called to seven separate incidents in Norfolk, involving 62 people cut off by the rising tide.
Working with partners including HM Coastguard, the charity has produced artwork explaining the specific dangers of tidal cut-off. It is urging anyone planning to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach 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
~ Don’t allow your family to swim alone
~ Don’t 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
Nick Ayers, RNLI Water Safety Lead, North and East said: ‘Norfolk’s beaches are some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the country. But they can bring unique dangers, with sand bars and fast-flowing channels appearing and disappearing on the tide.
‘With schools not yet fully open and restrictions on foreign travel, we know that this could be the busiest summer ever on our beaches – and in turn for both our lifeguards and lifeboat crews. So it’s vital visitors to our coast help ease the pressure on emergency services and keep themselves safe by following our advice.’
Cllr Sarah Bütikofer, Leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “North Norfolk District Council is delighted to welcome back RNLI lifeguards this summer, their advice and support is always extremely welcome on our beaches.
‘I would urge all beach users to please follow the RNLI safety advice when visiting the coast, if you can’t see a lifeguard look out for signage offering advice about the beach you are visiting. Please remember to be responsible, look out for those around you and to #Leaveonlyfootprints.’
Cllr Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: ‘The expansion of lifeguard provision is more than welcomed as more of our seafront business are set to reopen this weekend, which means we expect a rise in visitors to our beaches.
‘Whilst the sea can be a fun place to play and cool off in the warmer weather, it is also important to remember the danger the water holds. Lifeguards cannot be everywhere this summer, and visitors must be sensible around the sea.
‘Visitors must be respectable and responsible when visiting our coastline by following water safety advice, adhering to the social distancing guidelines, queueing responsibly and of course disposing of any litter in the bin.’