LIFEGUARDS are today preparing to start their summer patrols of Wearside beaches.
Twelve lifeguards will keep watch over the city’s beaches for 14 weeks, starting from tomorrow.
RNLI divisional lifeguard manager Chris Ward said: “All of the RNLI’s lifeguards have spent the last month honing their life-saving skills and first aid abilities and are now looking forward to the service becoming operational on the beaches.
“We are hoping that nice weather brings local people and tourists to the area to enjoy the coastline, but would advise all visitors to seek out the lifeguards for information on local conditions and to swim between the red and yellow flags.”
The RNLI runs the lifeguard service on behalf of Sunderland City Council.
Roker and Seaburn beaches have received Blue Flag Awards, guaranteeing they will be clean, safe and litter-free.
Councillor John Kelly, who oversees culture, tourism, leisure and safer city issues for the local authority, said: “Here in Sunderland, with one of the oldest lifeboat stations in the country, we have a long tradition of working with the RNLI.
“The RNLI is one of the UK’s most respected organisations and I’m very pleased that RNLI trained lifeguards are again helping safeguard our award-winning beaches.”
Meanwhile, lifeguards have issued a safety warning to sunseekers after a woman was struck down by suspected heatstroke on a Wearside beach.
RNLI lifeguard supervisor Gavin Hughes said: “She was unconscious and unresponsive. She was also having seizures throughout the time we were there.”
After administering first aid and oxygen, the casualty was rushed to hospital by ambulance.
It is understood the woman suffered no serious injuries.
Gavin said the lifeguards were training and delivering equipment to their mobile units when the drama unfolded.
After the scare, lifeguards have issued a safety warning, advising beachgoers to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and remember to “Slip, Slap, Slop” – slip on a T-shirt, slap on a hat, and slop on some suncream.
“We don’t get the sunshine that often, but when we do we would ask the public to use common sense, follow our simple advice, and not get carried away,” added Gavin.
For more beach safety information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety
The RNLI provides lifeguards on more than 180 of the UK’s busiest beaches.
Last year, its lifeguards helped 17,671 people, saving the lives of 84 people, rescuing a further 3,566 people, treating 862 major first aid casualties, and reuniting 1,240 families and friends with those “missing” or “lost”.
For those heading to the beach, the RNLI’s top five beach safety tips are:
Swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags.
Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.
Check tide times before you go.
If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help.
If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard.
If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.