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RNLI lifeguards launch their safety patrols on beaches across Dorset as the charity's peak season gets underway.
The charity has also launched a new 'beach finder' mobile app to make it easy for anyone heading to the seaside this summer to find their nearest lifeguarded beach, helping them have a fun and safe visit.
Lifeguard cover will begin from Saturday July 7th on numerous beaches in the region, bringing the total number patrolled by RNLI lifeguards in the south west to 98. RNLI lifeguards will cover 21 beaches in Dorset, including Lyme Regis, West Bay, Poole Bay and Christchurch. Season dates are staggered to take into account the number of beach users.
Barry Heathfield, RNLI Divisional Lifeguard Manager for Dorset, said:
"Our lifeguards are busy with their two-week induction schedule which ensures all are trained up to the same high quality. Although the weather hasn't been particularly great recently, we are expecting thousands of people on the region's beaches throughout the summer, whatever the weather, as visitors and locals make the most of what the area has to offer.
"Ninety-five per cent of a lifeguard's role is preventative, and we urge all visitors to try and find a lifeguarded beach as our teams can provide vital local knowledge, including tide times and any potential hazards to avoid, thus ensuring everybody has a safe and enjoyable day at the beach."
The 'RNLI beach finder' app locates the user's position and then lists the nearest lifeguarded beaches, as well as providing important information such as water quality (provided by the Marine Conservation Society); a description of the beach; the lifeguards' patrol dates and times, and hazard information specific to each beach, such as whether it has big waves, strong winds, tidal cut off points or rip currents. Users can also plan their trip to the beach by typing a postcode or town into the app's search function to find lifeguarded beaches in that area.
Real-time weather information and a five-day forecast for each location is also included with the app – ideal for anyone wondering whether they'll need to bring out their suncream or waterproofs!
RNLI lifeguards responded to 15,625 incidents, helped 17,671 people and saved 84 lives on some of the UK and Ireland's busiest beaches last year. In Dorset last year RNLI lifeguards dealt with 2,150 incidents, assisted 2,246 people and saved seven lives.
The charity's key safety advice for those heading to the coast is to try and find a lifeguarded beach and then swim between the red and yellow flags so you have expert lifesavers looking out for you while you're in the water.
Ross Macleod, RNLI Coastal Safety Programmes Manager, says:
"Throughout the summer, the RNLI's advice for anyone planning a trip to the coast is to choose a lifeguarded beach, particularly if you're planning to go in the water, because you're much safer when you have highly-trained lifesavers looking out for you.
"Our new "beach finder" app is ideal because it makes finding a lifeguarded beach extremely easy and convenient – people can even look into it once they've already left home. The additional information, such as lifeguard patrol times and local hazard information, is really helpful so beach users can enjoy their day but stay safe at the same time."
The app is available to download free-of-charge on both Android and Apple devices from www.rnli.org/beach