Tyne and Wear Metro and The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) have teamed up to urge people to spare a thought for safety.
Around two-thirds of people in the region go to the seaside at least once a year and many of the beach-going public in Newcastle are expected to make the most of the quick and convenient Metro network, which can take passengers to the heart of the action in 25 minutes*, without the need to worry about finding a car-park space or paying parking fares.
To help the beach-going public stay safe, the lifesaving charity and Tyne and Wear Metro are offering some essential beach safety tips to make sure people remember their summer holidays for the right reason. In 2011, RNLI lifeguards responded to 15,625 incidents, helping 17,671 people and saving 84 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches, including Cullercoats, Whitely Bay, Tynemouth, King Edwards, Roker, South Shields and Seaburn. Last year, in North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland alone, lifeguards attended 522 incidents, 679 people were aided by lifeguards and 13 lives were saved.
To help avoid similar statistics this year, the easy to follow tips are:
1. Swim at a lifeguarded beach
2. Swim between the red and yellow flags
3. Never swim alone
4. Know your beach safety flags
5. Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas
6. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help
7. 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
8. Find out about the beach you’re going to before you visit
9. Check tide times before you go
10. Read and obey local hazard signs
Chris Ward, RNLI Divisional Lifeguard Manager, said: "A lot of our beaches are close to the Metro line and with lots of people coming to the beach and using the Metro network to get here, we are keen to help get our key safety messages across.
"We’d advise beach-goers to always swim at a lifeguarded beach between the red and yellow flags, and if you are ever unsure please approach one of our friendly lifeguards who will be more than happy to help.
“Those who can’t make it to a lifeguarded beach should find out about their chosen beach before they go, read the safety signs to make themselves aware of the local hazards. Most importantly, if they see someone in trouble, they should call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard – but should not enter the water themselves.”
As well as stunning beaches, the Tyne and Wear coastline also offers a whole host of activities for people of all ages to enjoy – many of which are weather proof. Better yet, Metro has teamed up with some of the key attractions to put some money saving offers in place, such as the Blue Reef Aqaurium, Tynemouth Priory and Castle, Ocean Beach Pleasure Park and The Dunes. Visit www.facebook.com/mymetrotw for more details.
Sharon Kelly, Customer Services Director, from Tyne and Wear Metro, said: "Despite the changeable weather, we’re still expecting many to brave the great outdoors and really make the most of what the region has to offer over the summer months.
“Whether it be surfing at Tynemouth, picnics and paddling at Whitley Bay or tucking into traditional fish and chips at Seaburn, we want passengers to have a great time, but also consider the safety of themselves and the people around them. We hope the easy to follow top safety tips from the RNLI will help them to do just that.”
To help even more people enjoy the coast and the other hidden gems in and around the Metro network, most Metro park-and-ride car parks are free right through the summer, until 31 August, so it’s even easier to make the short hop to the coast. All car parks are free except Kingston park (free at weekends only), Felling and Heworth.