Beach safety warning as lifeguards prepare for 'busiest summer ever'
- Credit: Archant
Lifeguards and coastguards across Norfolk and Waveney are preparing for the "busiest summer ever" as coronavirus restrictions are eased and people choose to staycation.
The RNLI and HM Coastguard are launching a joint beach safety campaign on Thursday (May 27) after a survey revealed that around 30 million people plan to visit the UK coast over the next four months.
Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and half-term holidays, the campaign is urging everyone to choose lifeguarded beaches when they visit the seaside.
The warning comes after summer last year saw a spike in callouts for lifeboat teams and coastguards when a combination of lifted lockdown restrictions and baking weather brought people flocking to the coast.
Nick Ayers, regional water safety lead for the east and north of England, said: "We're preparing for the busiest summer ever. With lockdown restrictions easing and with international holidays put on hold, people are expected to stay in the UK.
"Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags."
Mr Ayers, who spent eight years as a lifeguard at Gorleston beach and is currently based in Lowestoft, singled out inflatables as being "notoriously bad".
"We're taking a strict message of telling people to not use inflatables," he said.
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Another point of concern is Brancaster, in north Norfolk, where there were multiple incidents last summer of people getting cut off by the tide at Scolt Head Island.
Lifeguards have been watching over the beaches at Gorleston and Hemsby since May 1. They will return to Yarmouth seafront on July 3.
In a survey commissioned by the RNLI, 75pc of those questioned - aged 16 to 64 - expect to visit a UK beach or the coast between April and September, with around half of that number likely to do so three or more times.
A significantly higher proportion of the public (36pc) also said they plan to visit the coast more than usual this year, compared to 2020 (24pc).
Lifeguards, lifeboat crews and the coastguard faced a surge of call-outs last summer to people struggling in the water or stranded on sand banks and islands after the tide had returned.
There was also tragedy in August at Waxham beach, which has no lifeguards, when a mother died after attempting to rescue her son who had got into difficulty while on a kayak.
A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found at rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches