Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 15:06 UK

Beach lifeguard patrols extended

RNLI Lifeguard flag and board: Pic RNLI
Lifeguards will patrol until 1800 or 1700 as daylight hours shorten

Beach lifeguards are to continue to patrol six of the busiest beaches in the South West.

The RNLI has extended its patrols to cover weekends and the October school half term break at five beaches in Devon and Cornwall and one in Dorset.

The beach lifeguards normally finish their regular patrols at the end of September.

Surfers who use the water during the winter months will also be given more safety advice.

Praa Sands and Perranporth in Cornwall, Croyde and Woolacombe in north Devon, and Bantham in south Devon will be patrolled on Saturdays and Sundays during October and for the mid-term school holidays from 25 October to 2 November.

The RNLI said the extended patrols had been made possible by additional funding from local authorities and beach owners.

Bantham , Praa Sands and Perranporth will be patrolled from 1000 until 1800, reducing to 1700 as the nights draw in and Woolacombe and Croyde will be patrolled from 1000 until 1700.

In Dorset, lifeguards will patrol Boscombe east beach from 1 October until the summer from 1000 until 1800, with the exception of Christmas day.

RNLI Lifeguard: Pic RNLI
Local authorities and beach owners have funded the extra patrols

There will be a continual review of the finish time, becoming earlier as evenings become darker, the RNLI said.

RNLI inspector Steve Instance said: "The sea temperature is still warm and with the availability of cheap wetsuits and surf equipment we expect the beaches with RNLI lifeguard patrols to be busy."

People using unguarded beaches, or braving the water after November, should look for safety signs and be aware of weather, tides and potential hazards, such as rip currents.

Mr Instance said surf conditions were normally at their best during the winter months, when coasts pick up swells generated from storms out to sea and warned that inexperienced or novice surfers should not try to surf in conditions beyond their ability.

"It's a good idea to ask an experienced local surfer about the conditions and where the safest place to enter the water and surf is," he said.

"Always try to surf with a friend, and let someone on shore know where you will be and what time you expect to be back.

"If you do find yourself in trouble never abandon your board - it will help to keep you afloat."

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