NORTH Devon is one of the busiest lifeguarded areas in the country for the RNLI with Croyde, Woolacombe, Westward Ho! and Sandymere totting up a total of 696 incidents in 2012.
The 2013 season looks set to be no different with plenty of beachgoers making the most of the warm weather and surf conditions during the middle part of last week.
In the main the RNLI lifeguards have worked extremely hard to prevent incidents occurring; on Croyde we have a large rip current in the middle of the beach, which is especially strong when sand banks are exposed the at low tide.
The lifeguards have been on the water's edge using their whistles to remind bathers and bodyboarders to stay between the red and yellow flags, not a small job when there are sometimes hundreds of people in the water.
Sometimes though, the lifeguards need to respond quickly, as happened at the weekend when RNLI lifeguard Sam Day was patrolling the water's edge and two young boys who were on bodyboards between the flags drifted out of their depth. Sam grabbed a rescue tube and rushed into the water to help the thankful pair back to shore.
The lifeguards are trained as first responders to the ambulance service and are on hand to provide emergency casualty care to beachgoers.
On Woolacombe beach, RNLI lifeguards provided casualty care to a 57-year-old lady who had travelled that day from Birmingham. She had not taken on any fluids on what was an extremely hot day and after a long journey, collapsed on the beach.
The lifeguards gave her water and oxygen and transported her to the lifeguard unit where she could cool down. She was taken off in a land ambulance as a precaution.
Although we have had large numbers on the beach, alongside the proactive work to prevent incidents before they happen by the lifeguards, they have also reported good beach safety awareness from the public.
By following the key beach safety advice, we are encouraged that people are having a great time at the beach while staying safe.
Before starting on the beaches the RNLI lifeguards visited 34 schools in North Devon and Torridge, speaking to more than 6,000 children about how to stay safe on the beach, all essential information which helps ensure they have an enjoyable day out.
Finally, the RNLI lifeguards in North Devon have our fingers crossed for a good summer and look forward to seeing you down at the beach.
Please come and say hello, we're always happy to chat.