Families urged to stay safe when visiting South Tyneside's beaches over the school holidays
Life-savers are calling on families to take care at the coast during the school holidays.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard have issued the joint plea after figures show RNLI lifeguards saved the lives of 54 children and teenagers in summer 2020.
More than half of those saved were under 12 years old, and RNLI lifeguards also came to the aid of another 12,344 under-18s between June and September 2020.
With children breaking up from school, and many people expected to stay local or visit UK coastal destinations this summer as the pandemic continues, the RNLI and Coastguard have launched a new animated TV advert to help young children understand how to stay safe at the coast.
Nick Ayers, the RNLI Safety Lead, said beaches such as Sandhaven in South Shields, which were patrolled by lifeguards, were the safest for families to enjoy.
Speaking on the lives saved last summer, Nick said: “All of these people did the right thing by choosing to visit a lifeguarded beach and because of that, RNLI lifeguards were able to use their skills and training to safely rescue those in danger.”
He added: “Always visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.”
Nick said the RNLI sees a big increase in the number of incidents in the sea involving children and teenagers during the school summer holidays and are urging everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.
"RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble,” he said.
“Children should be supervised at all times and people of all ages should avoid swimming alone.
“We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.”
Anyone getting into difficulty at the coast should dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard, said the coastal emergency services have already seen an increase in 999 calls this summer and expect to be even busier during the school holidays.
“Last year we had our busiest-ever summer on record, with 13,493 incidents from the start of June to the end of August,” she said.
“And, despite the variable weather this June, we responded to 3,981 incidents - up from 3,536 in June 2020 - so we’re expecting it to be another busy season.“We want everyone to enjoy the summer around our coasts and take home only happy memories. The sea can be dangerous, so we’d ask everyone to help the emergency services by taking safety seriously.
‘If you do see someone in trouble, don’t delay, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we’ll send our teams and emergency services partners to help, day and night.’
The key summer safety advice is:
Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard