IT’S that time of year again! The upcoming Easter school holidays will see RNLI lifeguards return to beaches across the South West.

From Friday, March 29 to Sunday, April 14, a total of 25 beaches across the region will be patrolled by RNLI lifeguards.

RNLI lifeguards begin the season after a busy two weeks of pre-season training, which has included essential skills in casualty care, fitness testing, lifesaving skills in and out of the water and watercraft operations.  

Latest statistics reveal that in 2023 lifeguards in the South West responded to 7,501 incidents, aided 10,398 people and saved 38 lives.

The RNLI works in partnership with local authorities and private beach owners each year to set up and roll out a lifeguard service, at their request. Setting up a lifeguard service each season involves several different elements, including recruiting and training lifeguards and organising the logistics to deliver equipment, and in some cases, lifeguard units, to each beach. 

Lifeguards will patrol the following beaches full-time for the two-week Easter holidays.

Cornwall beaches include; Crantock, Fistral, Towan, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Tregonhawke, Widemouth, Summerleaze, Treyarnon, Constantine, Harlyn, Polzeath, Praa Sands, Porthtowan, Perranporth, Gwithian North, Hayle Towans, Porthmeor and Sennen.

After the Easter holidays, lifeguards patrols will continue daily on Sennen, Porthmeor, Perranporth and Fistral. The other beaches will be patrolled over the weekends of April 20 to 21 and April 28 to 28 and return to daily patrols from Saturday, May 4.

RNLI regional lifeguard lead for the South West, Guy Botterill said: “The RNLI has been working closely with local landowners to ensure the beaches and lifeguard units are ready and equipped for the 2024 lifeguard season.

“Our lifeguards have spent the last few weeks going through inductions and training to make sure they are ready for the new season. They are excited to be back on the beaches doing what they do best, offering preventative advice and a top-quality lifesaving service. 

“If you are heading to the coast over Easter we strongly advise going to a lifeguarded beach. Speak to our lifeguards for advice and information about the local beach risks, tides and weather conditions.

“It’s important to remember that the water is usually at its coldest at this time of the year which increases the risk of cold water shock. Additionally, the winter weather at your local beach might have altered the landscape and terrain, so it's essential to familiarise yourself with any new hazards such as rip currents or exposed rocks. 

“Be prepared for whatever water activity you have planned, and always have a means of calling for help. We wish everyone a safe and happy Easter.”

Local authorities and private beach owners in the region invest each year in keeping their beach visitors safe by contributing to RNLI costs, which helps to meet lifeguard wages, while the extensive training and equipment needed is provided by the charity through public donations. 

Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change at Cornwall Council, added: “We are proud to support the RNLI as once again their lifeguards return to our beaches to carry out their life-saving work. Every year they rescue dozens of people and help prevent numerous tragedies and I would urge everyone to follow their advice and stay safe.”

The RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this spring 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.