High tides and cold sea temperatures spark RNLI Easter holiday safety advice

AS MANY schools in Wales prepare to break up for the Easter holiday later this week, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (NRLI) charity is urging those planning to visit the coast to do so safely.

The warning comes ahead of some of the highest tides of the year during the Easter weekend, which often see people cut off and requiring the RNLI’s help.

The charity is also reminding people that despite the temptation to have a dip, the sea is still incredibly cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.

With an increase in people using the sea for activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding, the charity is also urging people to be mindful of offshore winds and the risk of being swept out to sea.

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Chris Cousens, RNLI water safety lead for Wales, said: “The good weather in March saw more people taking to the sea on stand up paddleboards and we expect to see the same once the schools break.

“Unfortunately, volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews were called to a number of emergencies where paddleboarders were blown away from the safety of the shore by offshore winds and were unable to return without assistance.

“Avoid using stand up paddleboards when the wind is blowing from the land to the sea, always carry a means of calling for help and keep it on your person, and in an emergency, always stay with your paddleboard as it will help you stay afloat.”

With schools breaking, RNLI lifeguards will return to their posts at some locations across Wales this weekend.

In North Wales, the RNLI is calling on families to take their own safety seriously and be mindful of risks, especially during the forthcoming spring tides, where the tidal movement is greater than usual.

The biggest tides during the Easter period fall on Easter Sunday and Monday (April 17-18), and the holiday is likely to see an increased number of people visiting the coast.

Statistics for Wales show people getting cut off by the tide caused almost 10 per cent of all RNLI lifeboat launches over the last decade – more than double the UK average.

Lifeguards rescue hundreds more stranded people every year.

Chris Cousens added: “At this time of year, the weather is usually starting to improve and there is a real temptation for families to enjoy a visit to the coast.

“We want people to enjoy their Easter and are therefore keen they take heed of important advice to ensure their trip is not memorable for all the wrong reasons.

“The Easter weekend, the higher than usual tides, coinciding with many families taking time out from work and school could potentially create an increase in call outs for our volunteers.

‘The tide comes in and out twice in each 24-hour period, and while tide times can be accurately predicted, they vary at each location and change each day.

“A beach or coastal area may appear a safe place for a walk, but incoming tide can quickly leave you stranded.

“On bigger tides like those we will see over the weekend, places will be cut off by the tide quicker than normal and places usually unaffected by the tide may also get cut off.

“That’s why checking the weather and tides using a trusted online source, such as magicseaweed.com, the BBC weather or a tidal prediction app before setting off on any trip is essential.

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice:

• Wherever you are, check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand risks.

• If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float.

• In an emergency, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.