The mother of a teenager who almost died when she was swept out to sea is calling for beach lifeguard patrols to be extended.
Rose Reavey’s daughter Sally McLaughlin is lucky be alive - along with friend Tia Smith - following a trip to Sandhaven beach in South Shields last Saturday.
The pair, both aged 14, were in the water when a wave caught them off guard and swept them out to sea.
This weekend, RNLI lifeguards will be on duty between 10am and 6pm daily until September 2 for the summer season.
Ms Reavey says with peaks in temperature happening much earlier in the year, there needs to be a longer summer season for lifeguards.
The Saturday the girls got into trouble in the water, it was a hot day and the beach was busy but yet there was no lifeguards on duty.Rose Reavey
She said: “There needs to be a temperature which signals there is a need to have lifeguards on duty.
“No one can say the warm weather is between June and September any more.
“The day the girls got into trouble was a hot day and the beach was busy, yet there were no lifeguards.
“I know there have been cutbacks, but this is a matter of public safety.
“I just dread to think what would have happened if the lifeboat crews hadn’t been in the area.
Ms Reavey is also calling on parents to speak to their children about the dangers of the sea and the importance of knowing what the warning flags mean.
The lifeguard service is run in partnership with South Tyneside Council.
A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “The RNLI’s lifeguards provide an invaluable service helping to keep visitors to Sandhaven safe during June, July and August - our typical bathing season.
“Along with other partners, the council contributes towards the RNLI’s lifesaving work. Last weekend was exceptionally warm for this time of year, attracting scores of visitors to our seafront.
“While the presence of lifeguards is reassuring, it is not possible for them to provide cover all year round or quickly react to a sudden change in temperature outside of the planned season.”
She added: “We are very fortunate to have the RNLI’s search and rescue service, as well as the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade operating off our coastline.
“We take water safety very seriously. We would always ask people to treat coastal areas with the greatest respect and think about beach safety at all times.”
The RNLI has launched campaign Respect the Water, to help people stay safe throughout the summer: RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.