RNLI warns bathers to play it safe

Be safe at the seaside
Be safe at the seaside

The RNLI’s lifeguards are having a busy summer so far in Northern Ireland, and has advised beach-goers to be mindful of their safety.

It comes after several recent rescues of bathers who had been caught in rip currents, and children who had wandered into deep water.

The charity said those planning to head to the shore to soak up summer sun may be in for a surprise because of heavy winter weather.

Mike Grocott, RNLI lifeguard manager for Northern Ireland, said: “RNLI lifeguards have carried out a lot of rescues to date this summer with many of them outside the patrolled red and yellow flagged areas.

“The winter storms have also taken their toll on the make-up of some of the beaches and many returning to these favourite spots may be surprised at how different everything looks.

“The changes in the sea bottom for example have created some hazards that you will not see such as under currents and flash rips.

“Therefore, we would urge visitors to remember that even if you swam safely at a certain area of a beach last year, that doesn’t mean it will be safe this year.”

Last year, RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 302 incidents, compared to 159 in 2012.

The charity advised bathers to swim at lifeguarded beaches, and never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.