Published: 17:38, 21 May 2020
| Updated: 17:43, 21 May 2020
A new campaign is urging parents to protect their families when making trips to the beach.
The campaign, run by the RNLI and Coastguard, comes as tourists flock to beaches in Kent following the relaxation of lockdown rules.
There are currently no RNLI lifeguards on beaches in the county, and the charity say that lifeboats "cannot be everywhere this summer".
While lifeguard services will be rolled out soon, the challenges posed by coronavirus and social distancing means that only around 30% of beaches usually covered will have a lifeguard by the time of the traditional peak summer season.
Just across last weekend, coastguard rescue teams were called out 194 times across the UK.
Incidents included inflatables drifting offshore, jet skis crashing, and simmers or watersports enthusiasts getting into difficulty while out in the water.
Although the lifeboat services are fully staffed and operational, there are fears that they will not be able to accommodate for the loss of lifeguards.
"No-one ever goes to the coast to be rescued"
Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said: "Our lifeguards are trained to swim 200m within three and a half minutes, and although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, they won’t be able to reach you in the same time.
"It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands that the beach can be a dangerous environment and you must take more responsibility for you and your family this summer.
"No-one ever goes to the coast to be rescued yet RNLI lifeguards rescue thousands each year.’
Clair Hughes, director of HM Coastguard, implored families to think of the emergency services crew as well as their own families.
She said: "If you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we will come to your aid.
"But coronavirus hasn’t gone away, and we all need to follow the rules. Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk.
"Take extra care in these extraordinary times."
Anyone who does make the journey to the coast is asked not to use inflatables, and to follow this safety advice:
More by this authorAlex Jee