RNLI lifeguard
RNLI lifeguard

RNLI lifeguards are preparing to return to Exmouth beach in time for the Easter holidays. Working closely with East Devon District Council, the charity has improved its lifeguard service for 2022 with several new additions.

The RNLI is implementing some significant changes at Exmouth beach this year to improve the lifeguard provision. The beach will have lifeguard cover during the two-week Easter holidays, from Saturday 9 April to Sunday 24 April, and will then be patrolled daily from Saturday 30 April to Sunday 25 September. There will be four lifeguards on duty, rising to six in the peak July and August months.

The main lifeguard patrolled area will be unchanged, but during the peak season in July and August there will be a second beach lifeguard unit, 250m to the east of the lifeboat station, and a second flagged area at the discretion of the lifeguards.

Also for 2022, the lifeguards will be putting up windbreaks along the estuary section of the beach, rather than red flags, which will offer better safety information.

Henry Irvine, Regional Lifeguard Lead for Devon said:

In recent years Exmouth has benefitted from significant seafront development, greater recognition as a beach destination and wider trends such as open water swimming. We continually monitor the services we provide, in conjunction with local authority partners, to ensure our lifeguard operations are effective in managing the safety of beach users. These improvements in the service we provide at Exmouth are the result of thorough and ongoing assessment of risk, as well as close collaboration with East Devon District Council, to devise practical evidence-based improvements."

Councillor Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said:

We had a record number of visitors enjoying our Blue Flag beach at Exmouth and participating in our numerous watercraft activities and swimming. Safety is paramount, therefore we have worked with the RNLI to improve and enhance safety on Exmouth beach."

For the last two weeks RNLI lifeguards have been busy with their pre-season inductions where they refresh their skills in casualty care, lifesaving skills in and out of the water, craft operations and fitness testing.

RNLI figures reveal that in 2021, RNLI lifeguards in the south west dealt with 11,216 incidents, aided 13,664 people and saves saved 57 lives.

In comparison to 2019, the last full season unaffected by covid restrictions, RNLI lifeguards dealt with 10,527 incidents, aided 13,069 people and saved 69 lives.

Henry continued:

In the year where travel restrictions were in place and the region was incredibly busy with tourism, official RNLI statistics show that our lifeguard teams dealt with more incidents and aided more people during 2021, than in previous normal seasons. Restrictions have been lifted for the 2022 season but we are still expecting the region to be busy as more people holiday locally and take advantage of the incredible coastline the south west has to offer.

The return of RNLI lifeguards for the Easter holidays is always a welcome sign and signals that summer is nearly upon us. Our teams across Devon and Cornwall have been working hard to ensure the beaches and lifeguard units are ready and equipped, and our lifeguards are trained to the highest standard. Pre-season preparations have gone well and our lifeguards are looking forward to getting back on the beaches and doing what they do best - offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water or on the beach itself.

We’re hopeful for good weather but it’s important to remember that the water is usually at its coldest at this time of the year and therefore increasing the risk of cold water shock. Also, the winter weather might have altered the conditions at your local beach, so it's important to familiarise yourself with any hazards.

We'd urge people to head to one of our 23 RNLI lifeguarded beaches this Easter and speak to the lifeguards to find out the local risks, tides and weather conditions. Be prepared for whatever water activity you have planned, and always have a means of calling for help. We wish you a safe and happy Easter."

The RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this summer 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.
• Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
• Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water – don’t allow your family to swim alone.
• 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