RNLI lifeguards to provide Easter cover on Exmouth beach Kaifen Phippen and Alex Sanger-Anderson

On the request of East Devon District Council, for the first time this year, the RNLI will provide lifeguard cover on Exmouth beach over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 2 April to Monday 5 April).

The lifesaving charity has been working with partners behind the scenes through the challenges of lockdown, to recruit, train and prepare their lifeguards for what is expected to be another busy summer on UK beaches. The RNLI will deliver its usual lifeguard service across the UK and Channel Islands this year in the standard phased approach.

The first set of beaches in the south west will go on service at the start of the Easter weekend, for this first time this year this will include Exmouth. The number of beaches will increase through the season until the peak school summer holidays when over 89 beaches across the region will be patrolled.

The RNLI are encouraging the public to follow government advice on social distancing, travel and contact with others when visiting the beach to keep themselves and our lifeguards safe.

Henry Irvine, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for Exmouth, said:

We’re really pleased to be able to provide additional safety cover on Exmouth beach this Easter. While lockdown restrictions will remain in place, we expect people will want to make the most of their time off over the long Bank Holiday weekend and for many this may involve visiting the coast.

We’d urge anyone wanting to go into the water to visit their nearest lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, having lifeguard patrols on Exmouth allows those in East Devon to access this service without having to travel too far.

RNLI lifeguards will provide four days of cover over the Easter weekend and on weekends and bank holidays up until 29 May, when they will then provide full time patrols as is their usual service on Exmouth beach until 5 September when patrols will be weekends only until the end of the month.’

RNLI lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water. Not only do they receive the best training but the best equipment too, so they are able to deal with any emergency situation as professional first responders.

In 2020, RNLI lifeguards covering the south west saved 56 lives, aided 9,179 people and responded to 6,287 incidents which included water rescues, minor first aid and helping to reunite missing children with their families.

Councillor Nick Hookway, EDDC portfolio holder for Culture, Leisure, Sport and Tourism and Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment said:

We are really pleased to provide support to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for beach lifeguard provision for Exmouth beach again this year.

We are also pleased that this year we will be able to have lifeguard cover from before Easter and this will continue throughout this coming summer which we expect to be exceptionally busy.’

Each year the RNLI works in partnership with local authorities and landowners to set up and roll out the lifeguard service, which is complex in normal times even without the challenges of doing so during a pandemic.

Henry adds;

We have been here before, and with the added benefit of being able to plan ahead, we have developed contingencies should things change.

The protocols and measures introduced last year because of coronavirus will continue. We are working with East Devon District Council, who ask us to provide a lifeguard service on their beaches, to make sure the environment for lifeguards to return to is safe. We will continue to monitor the risk to our people and the public in relation to the pandemic.’

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice;

• Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags – find your nearest at rnli.org.uk/lifeguardedbeaches
• Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
• 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.

If you are a local business near the coast you can help the RNLI share key water safety messages and save lives by becoming a local ambassador . As a local ambassador you can help be the eyes and ears in your community by helping the RNLI share important water safety messages with more people. To find out more visit: https://rnli.org/support-us/volunteer/volunteering-opportunities/rnli-local-ambassador