RNLI lifeguards will be making a welcome return to a number of selected beaches on the Causeway Coast and in County Down next weekend ahead of the Easter holidays.
After undergoing intensive training in preparation, the charity’s lifeguards will be keeping visitors safe on Tyrella Beach in County Down and on Benone Strand, Portstewart Strand, East and West Strands in Portrush and Whiterocks on the Causeway Coast.
Lifeguards will begin their patrols on Good Friday, 3 April between 11am and 7pm on the Causeway Coast and between 10am and 6pm in County Down and continue daily to Sunday 12 April.
Cover will be provided every weekend until the end of June ahead of the summer season when a daily duty will get underway on all 10 RNLI lifeguarded beaches in Northern Ireland.
Ahead of Easter, the RNLI has echoed its advice to people planning a beach trip to stay well away from dangerous cliff edges which have been impacted by recent weather conditions.
Winter storms changed the profile of all the beaches with extensive damage at Whiterocks, Portrush East and Portstewart where there are high and unstable sand cliffs.
RNLI Lifeguard Manager Mike Grocott said: ‘Working alongside our colleagues in the Causeway Coast and Glens District Council and the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the RNLI is delighted to be back on six of our lifeguarded beaches for the Easter season. After a number of weeks of inductions in preparation for the 2015 season, our lifeguards are looking forward to going on patrol and meeting people who come to the beach. We would encourage visitors to speak to our lifeguards, ask for safety advice, and most importantly call on them should they find themselves in difficulty.
‘We would also remind visitors whether they are planning on swimming, surfing, walking or driving, to be aware that all of the patrolled beaches have changed considerably since last year as a result of winter weather. This includes significant erosion of sand dunes where gentle slopes have washed away leaving sheer sand cliffs. Access points have been altered and on some beaches the shifting sand has left deep channels that in turn create strong rip currents. Please put safety first and be mindful that these sand cliffs are falling away and may be unstable. The best advice is to stay away from the sand cliff edges and bases.’
The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 909 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
Last year, RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 251 incidents, assisting 284 people across the Easter and summer season.
For more information on the beach you plan to visit, you can download the RNLI’s Beachfinder app to find lifeguarded beaches and more information. See RNLI.org/beach