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14 Aug 2022

RNLI helping North Coast beachgoers whatever the weather

The poor weather often allows training opportunities.

RNLI helping North Coast beachgoers whatever the weather

An RNLI lifeguard on duty at Benone Beach on the Co Derry coast.

The RNLI have reiterated their message that they are here to help despite a dip in the weather over last weekend.

Stuart Montgomery, Lifeguard Supervisor for the County Down area, said bad weather provided an opportunity to hone their skills through training.

“Lifeguards love bad weather, sometimes, because it gives them a chance to really train and practice their skills in difficult conditions, which, let's face it, is most of the time,” he said.

“Everything else still has to happen, so they might as well be in their wetsuits.’

RNLI Lifeguards keep beachgoers safe by spotting the dangers and preventing accidents before they happen, as well as responding instantly if they occur.

Ola, a lifeguard on the Causeway Coast, also practices first aid, saying: “When it's a little rainy on the beach, which is quite often, I like to keep up with my knowledge of the responder bag in case anyone requires first aid.

“Quiet days are perfect for rescue board or tube training, as there are less people in the water so you can focus more on improving your own lifesaving skills.

“If you’re coming to the beach on a rainy day, we might be in the truck to stay dry and warm, but don't worry, we've still got our eyes on the water!’

RNLI lifeguards are qualified in lifesaving and casualty care as well as being highly trained and fit.

They maintain a level of fitness, which allows them to swim 200m in under 3 and a half minutes and run 200m on sand in under 40 seconds.

As well as equipment and fitness training for the next busy day on the beach, RNLI lifeguards keep a close eye on sea conditions.

When the weather is bad some areas that are usually safe for swimming become red flagged.

The red flags mean that there is danger, possibly due to strong tides and rip currents. Never enter the water when a red flag is flying.

Similarly, in poor conditions, you might see an orange windsock flying. This windsock indicates that there are offshore or strong winds.

Conard McCullagh, Lifeguard Supervisor for the Causeway Coast, explains: “It is important that people check the weather forecast and surf report before heading out into the water.

“Our lifeguards closely monitor the conditions of the sea to make sure that when people go swimming, they are swimming in a safe area.”

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