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Date published: 1st May 2021

The Norfolk Water Safety Forum is asking visitors to the county’s coast to #BeBeachSafe as Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguards prepare return to service on Norfolk beaches this weekend.

Lifeguards will provide a full-time lifesaving service from Saturday May 1st at Sheringham West, Cromer East, Mundesley, Sea Palling, Hemsby and Gorleston, plus Lowestoft South and Southwold North in Suffolk, with further beaches on service in time for the peak school summer holidays.

Restrictions on foreign travel and the easing of domestic lockdown restrictions mean the charity is expecting beaches to be busier than ever. Water safety experts from the RNLI will coordinate their work more closely than ever with partners from the Norfolk Water Safety Forum, identifying local risks and working together on interventions create a safer environment along the county’s coast.

Water Safety experts will be on hand this Saturday at Sea Palling, with a demonstration of safe practice for Stand Up Paddleboarders (SUP) and advising beachgoers on the dangers on rip currents in the area.

In 2020, RNLI lifeguards in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk saved 7 lives, aided 399 people and responded to 346 incidents which included water rescues, minor first aid and helping to reunite missing children with their families.

Nick Ayers, Regional Water Safety Lead, said: "RNLI lifeguards play a vital role in keeping beach visitors safe, and this year we’re fully staffed and ready to go on all our beaches. But we can’t be everywhere, so will be supported by the charity’s 24/7 lifeboat service and all our partners on the Norfolk Water Safety Forum.

"The protocols and measures introduced last year because of coronavirus will continue. We are working with local authorities and landowners, who ask us to provide a lifeguard service on their beaches, to make sure the environment for lifeguards to return to is safe. We will continue to monitor the risk to our people and the public in relation to the pandemic.

"Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember they can be unpredictable and dangerous environments, particularly during spring and early summer when the air temperature is warm but sea temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock. I’d remind anyone entering the water to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks, as early season conditions are more challenging.

Greg Preston, Head of Community Safety at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, added: "Our partners in the RNLI provide an invaluable service to help keep our waterways and beaches safe. Please follow their advice when visiting our beaches and for further information on how to stay safe, please visit rnli.org/safety."

Steve Blatch, Chief Executive of North Norfolk District Council, said: “We look forward to receiving visitors in the coming months and want everyone to enjoy themselves safely. We urge visitors to be mindful of the Government guidance in place such as social distancing measures and familiarise themselves with RNLI advice. Always swim between Lifeguard zones, (the red and yellow flag) keep an eye on your family, stick together and avoid using inflatables in the water.”

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice along with the government’s advice on travel and social distancing:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags - we have a number of patrolled beaches around the coast from the Easter holidays – find your nearest at rnli.org.uk/lifeguardedbeaches
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Last updated: 1st May 2021