Danger in the sea: RNLl urges people to stay safe on Teignbridge’s beaches ahead of busy bank holiday weekend

By Nick Knight   |   Editor   |
Wednesday 25th August 2021 10:05 am
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A dramatic rescue of a father and son on one of Devon's beaches. ()

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FIGURES released today show that RNLI lifeguards in the south west responded to 163 incidents and aided 208 people over last year’s August Bank Holiday weekend.

While the region’s volunteer lifeboat crew launched 27 times, aiding 40 people and of those saved two lives.

The release of the figures coincides with a forecast for sunny, settled weather and large crowds expected to visit the coast over the coming Bank Holiday weekend, with the RNLI urging water users to heed safety advice to keep them and their families safe.

While the weather is forecast to be pleasant and the surf conditions settled across the coming weekend, it’s important to remember the beach and especially the sea, can be an unpredictable environment. That’s why when you are planning your trip to the coast, you should always visit a lifeguarded beach.

Earlier this month (9 August), Oliver Gregory, 47, from Leeds was on holiday with his family in Devon.

Oliver and his son Joshua, 11, went bodyboarding at Bantham beach when they were suddenly pulled into a strong rip current heading towards some rocks.

Oliver said: ‘We initially went in the water in between the red and yellow flags, but a combination of not looking back at the beach for a reference position and the power of the current, swept us to the side of the bay. We tried to swim back to shore but were not making much progress and as we were still being dragged to the rocks we began to get concerned.’

RNLI lifeguards Ivan Burton and Emily Lawrence were about to head out on the water to do some training in the inshore rescue boat (IRB) when they noticed Oliver and Joshua struggling in the rip current. They immediately launched the IRB and headed straight towards them.

With Ivan as helm managing to keep the boat controlled in the breaking surf close to the rocks, Emily was able to reach over and help pull Joshua and Oliver on board and to safety.

 Oliver added: ‘I was so relieved when I saw the lifeguards were heading towards us. We are very grateful for their help that day. If anyone is planning on going in the water, make yourself aware of any potential currents or dangers and always try to go to a lifeguard beach.’

Rob Stuteley, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor for the South Hams area in Devon says: ‘Oliver and Joshua gave themselves the best chance of staying safe by coming to a lifeguarded beach. It’s important to understand that anyone can get caught in a rip, which is a strong current running out to sea that can drag people away from the shallows and out of their depth.

‘They both kept hold of their bodyboards, which allowed them to float on top of the water and remained calm until the lifeguards reached them.

 ‘By entering the water between the red and yellow flags the lifeguards were able to spot them quickly and come to their aid.

‘This is especially important when there are large crowds on the beach and lots of people in the sea. Our lifeguards are trained in water rescue techniques with specialist equipment.

‘If you ever see anyone in trouble in the water, do not attempt to go in and rescue them. Instead, alert the lifeguards or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

 ‘If you are unsure about anything or have any questions, come and speak to the lifeguards who are always happy to help. They have a wealth of local knowledge of the beaches they work on and any specific dangers to look out for. They will give you the best advice on how to keep yourself safe, whilst enjoying your time at the beach.’

SAFETY ADVICE

 If you ever find yourself caught in a rip current remember the following safety advice:

·       Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.

·       If you have a bodyboard or surfboard, keep hold of it as it will help you to float

·       If you can stand, wade don’t swim.

·       If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.

·       If you can, always raise your hand and shout for help.

RNLI lifeguards are operating on over 90 beaches across the south west. To find your nearest lifeguarded beach visit: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches

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