RNLI lifeguards responded to more than 14,500 incidents and helped more than 16,000 people on some of the UK's busiest beaches in 2012.
Here are some tips from the life-saving charity on how to stay safe on the South West's beaches this Summer:
- Swim at a lifeguarded beach
- Swim between the red and yellow flags
- Never swim alone
- Know your beach safety flags
- Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas
- If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help
- If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can't see a lifeguard call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
- Find out about the beach you are going to before you visit
- Check tide times before you go
- Read and follow the advice on local hazard signs
The RNLI says its lifeguards will patrol 200 of the UK's busiest beaches during the Summer of 2013.
Nearly two-thirds of the people the RNLI help are children and the most common type of incident, counting people of all ages, involve rip currents that can quickly take paddling children, bodyboarders and swimmers out of their depth.
If you are caught in a rip, the RNLI advice is this:
- Stay calm
- If you can stand, wade - don’t swim
- Keep hold of your board or inflatable to help you float
- Raise your hand and shout for help
- Never try to swim directly against the rip or you’ll get exhausted
- Swim parallel to the beach until free of the rip, then make for shore
Dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.