RNLI safety plea as lifeguard patrols on beaches in Exmouth and South West stop for winter

RNLI lifeguards at beaches in Exmouth and the South West will hang up their wetsuits today (Sunday, October 31) until spring next year.

The lifesaving charity is reminding people using the coast over winter to take extra care and heed safety advice.

It says weather conditions are becoming more severe with strong winds and bigger, more powerful surf.

After 5pm today, the RNLI will no longer have an operational lifeguard service on any beaches in the region.

Tom Mansell, RNLI regional lifesaving lead said: “It’s been an extremely busy season from March right the way through and October has been no exception.

“With multiple lifeguard rescues, people are getting caught out by the unpredictable sea conditions caused by the weather at this time of year.

“Luckily our lifeguards have been on hand to respond. But now the season is ending and there will be no lifeguards offering safety cover after 5pm on Sunday, it’s really important for people to be extra cautious if they are thinking about entering the water.

“Although the lifeguards have packed up until spring, RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews will continue to be on call 365-days-a-year ready to respond to emergencies.

“But to avoid putting yourself and our volunteers at risk, please heed the following safety advice this winter.”

The RNLI advises:

  • Always check tides, weather and sea conditions and be realistic about your level of ability. Winter is not the time to push your limits.
  • Avoid going in the water alone. If you are planning to go for a kayak, surf or swim, always go with someone, have someone on the shore or at least let somebody know where you will be and what time you expect to be back.
  • If you are an inexperienced water user, avoid isolated beaches that have a reduced footfall so that if you do get into difficulty, there is a chance someone will see you and raise the alarm.
  • Take note of the signage at the entrance to the beach which will indicate any localised hazards. If in doubt, ask a local for advice.
  • Always wear appropriate equipment, this includes a winter wetsuit, wetsuit hood, boots and gloves – the colder you get, the weaker your body will become, increasing your risk of getting into difficulty. The RNLI also suggests having warm clothing, a hot drink and a woolly hat for afterwards.
  • If you find yourself in trouble, never abandon your craft, it will keep you afloat until help arrives.
  • If you see somebody in difficulty, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Stay on scene until they arrive as this will aid the rescue, but please do not attempt to rescue them yourself.

More RNLI safety advice is available here.

A teenage kitesurfer heard calling for help in the water off Exmouth beach on Sunday, October 24, was rescued by the town’s lifeboat crew.

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