Advice on keeping toddlers safe this summer

Children account for the highest proportion of beach incidents, the latest statistics from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) have revealed. With the school summer holidays approaching, the charity is calling on families and young people to make safety a priority on the water and on the beach.

The statistics show that, of the all the incidents RNLI lifeguards responded to on some of the busiest UK beaches last year, nearly two-thirds of those involved children.

The figures also show that more than 800 children went missing or were found wandering on just 71 UK beaches patrolled by RNLI lifeguards last year. Each child was missing or lost for nearly an hour.

Throughout the summer, the charity runs its beach safety drive, urging people to choose a lifeguarded beach to help keep themselves and their families safe.

RNLI Beach Safety Programmes Manager, Kelly Keating, says adults should make sure their children stay safe at the beach: “Seeing that young people account for such a high proportion of the RNLI lifeguards’ activity last year is really alarming.

“Young people, particularly children, are less hazard-aware so we would urge anyone planning a trip to the beach over the summer holidays to make sure their children stay safe at all times and never leave them unattended.

“We strongly recommend that people choose a lifeguarded beach and stay between the red and yellow flags while swimming. Parents can explain the importance of beach safety to their children and supervise them while at the beach, but having fully trained lifeguards on patrol could literally be a life-saver.

“Beach visitors can also look out for our beach teams who will be on various RNLI lifeguarded beaches throughout July, August and September, to give beach safety advice, hand out flags, car stickers and sachets of sun cream, as well as collecting donations from the public to help fund the charity’s vital lifesaving work.”

As part of its summer beach safety drive, the charity has published On The Beach, a new guide to beach safety.

Actress Caroline Quentin is supporting the campaign and has written the foreword to the guide. She says: “As a mother of two children who love going in the water, I always consider safety when visiting a beach and, whenever possible, go to a lifeguard-patrolled beach.

“Having RNLI lifeguards nearby is so reassuring because the charity ensures they are trained to the highest standards and have the best possible equipment to do their job which, ultimately, could be saving someone’s life.”

The guide is available free-of-charge from beachsafety@rnli.org.uk or by calling 0800 328 0600.

Copies will also be available from most RNLI lifeboat stations, RNLI lifeguards, Tourist Information Centres, service stations, Little Chef restaurants and selected tourist attractions.

Those wishing to identify their nearest lifeguarded beach should visit the Good Beach Guide website.

The RNLI website also has plenty of practical advice and tips on how to stay safe.