Beach safety warning as weather warms up

Hayley MaceFamilies and holidaymakers have been told to heed basic safety advice when heading to Norfolk and Suffolk's beaches as the summer weather warms up.Hayley Mace

Families and holidaymakers have been told to heed basic safety advice when heading to Norfolk and Suffolk's beaches as the summer weather warms up.

The plea not to ignore safety messages comes after a full-scale air and sea search was launched to look for a toddler who was reported missing on Brancaster beach earlier this week.

The three-year-old boy was found safe and well after nearly 90 minutes of searching by coastguards, police, lifeboats and the police helicopter.

The RNLI urged people to keep a careful watch over their children as 1,540 children went missing or were found wandering on lifeguarded beaches last summer before being reunited with their parents.

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RNLI beach safety manager Steve Wills said: 'We want people to enjoy their time at the beach, but it's important to put safety first.

'We advise people to keep their children nearby and watch them closely, especially when in or near the water. As soon as you get to the beach, agree a meeting point in case of separation.

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'While in the water, stay close to the shore and always swim or play between the red and yellow flags. Never let your child swim alone,' he added.

The RNLI's lifeboat crews in Norfolk and Suffolk took to the water more than 250 times in 2009 and rescued more than 200 casualties, while its lifeguard crews helped 679 people at seven of the region's beaches.

A rising tide of stay-at-home holidays saw one of the RNLI's busiest years on record in 2009, with eight of the eastern region's stations, including Gorleston and Happisburgh, having their busiest years for a decade.

The Norfolk lifeguard teams at Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Hemsby, Cromer, Mundesley, Sea Palling and Sheringham attended 669 incidents in 2009 and helped 679 people - up from 603 incidents the previous year.

Beach safety tips include

Always swim at a lifeguard-monitored beach

Swim between the red and yellow flags

Never swim alone

Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas

If you get into trouble in the water, stick your hand in the air and shout for help

If you spot someone in trouble, tell a lifeguard or call 999. Do not get into the water yourself.

Check tide times before you go

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