RNLI urges visitors to only use beaches with lifeguards ahead of weather warning

200820- RNLI overlooking beach- ITV News West Country
Dangerous sea conditions are expected along the coast this weekend Credit: ITV News West Country

The RNLI and HM Coastguard are urging visitors to the region's beaches to only use those with lifeguard cover over the next couple of days, as forecasts predict dangerous sea conditions.

A mixture of strong winds, spring tides, and large swells are expected across Devon and Cornwall with current forecasts for Friday and Saturday predicting wave heights between six to nine feet.

Spring tides and surging waves mean people can easily get cut off by the incoming tide. 

Spring tides and surging waves mean people can very easily get cut off by the incoming tide.  Credit: RNLI

The authorities have also warned the public not to go in the sea if they see a a red flag on a lifeguard beach.

They also warned that if there are no flags visible on a particular beach then there are no lifeguards stationed there.

People heading to the coast are asked to check tide times and ensure they have enough time to return if they walk along a beach. 

The RNLI has warned that if there are not flags visible on a beach then there are no lifeguards stationed there. Credit: ITV News West Country

Steve Instance, RNLI water safety lead for the South West, says: "When we experience conditions such as this, especially during the summer when the region is busy with visitors, it is incredibly important that those heading to the coast keep themselves safe by choosing a lifeguarded beach and visiting within the patrol hours of 10 am-6 pm."

"With changeover days for holiday makers on Fridays and Saturdays, those arriving to the area may not be up to date with local news and forecasts so could be caught unaware of the conditions." 

He added: "They (the lifeguards) will be able to provide information on tide times and guide you to the safest area to swim which will be between the red and yellow flags."

"Anyone surfing should know their limits and always stay within the black and white flagged area."

Director of HM Coastguard, Claire Hughes, added:  "We’ve seen so many times how easy it is to get caught out by the sea." 

If you find yourself caught in a rip current, please adhere to the following safety advice: 

  • Swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore 

  • Do not try to swim against the rip current or you’ll get exhausted 

  • Always raise your hand and shout for help