Warning to bathers over absence of lifeguards

A complete absence of lifeguards due to Covid-19 has led to warnings being issued over an increased risk of drowning.

People are being urged to think carefully before considering travelling to a beach in Essex this weekend, which is expected to be sunny and warm.

Western Esplanade in Southend will be temporarily widened for pedestrians and cyclists from Saturday, May 16, in response to national changes to lockdown, and to allow local people to safely enjoy the seafront.

The widened promenade will be created from Chalkwell to the pier, and will be made possible by a contraflow system which will still allow cars to travel in both directions, but reduce lane width by suspending parking bays along Western Esplanade.

The RNLI suspended lifeguard provision during lockdown and there are currently no lifeguards on the 240 beaches that it normally patrols. Where normal lifeguard provision is absent, visitors are advised not to enter the water and to read safety information provided locally.

People must also not ignore beach closures or try and use dangerous alternate routes to a beach.

The RLNI has issued it own guidance given at present there are no RNLI lifeguards on beaches, although its volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational.

Anyone planning a visit to the coast is urged to follow RNLI safety advice:

Take care near cliffs

If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live

If individuals are choosing to go sailing or yachting it is important to ensure that equipment is properly checked and serviceable before going afloat

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter