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Coastguard face ‘busiest day in years’ as record temperatures see thousands flock to beaches



As England saw record-breaking temperatures on Friday, the Coastguard faced their busiest day in more than four years.

With temperatures hitting a sweltering 37.8C at Heathrow, Friday was the hottest July day ever recorded in the UK, with much of the country baking in hotter weather than in parts of Spain.

The warm weather saw many flock to beaches, with the Coastguard reporting a surge in incidents as swimmers and beach-goers got into difficulty.

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There were 329 recorded incidents on Friday, including 232 callouts for coastguard rescue teams, 129 for lifeboats, 22 requiring aircraft and three for a hovercraft.

‘Take extra care’

Julie-Anne Wood, of the Coastguard, said: “Yesterday was a beautiful day weather-wise in much of the UK. It was less beautiful a day for those who got themselves into trouble and had to be rescued. Some people will remember 31 July for all the wrong reasons.

AA boy jumps from Bournemouth pier on 31 July (Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty)

“We completely understand that people want to enjoy the coast. We also know that even the most experienced swimmer, paddleboarder and walker can be caught out by currents and tides respectively.

“We’re heading into some more good weather and we would really ask you to check and double check the tide times – put a timer warning on a smartphone to remind you – be aware of things like rip currents, and make sure you have a means of contacting us if things do go wrong.

“As the figures show, we’ll always respond when someone calls 999 and asks for the Coastguard, we’ll always answer distress on VHF (radio) and we’ll always do everything we can to rescue those in need. All we ask in return is that you take extra care at the coast – it can be unmerciful to the unwary and even to those who know it well.”

The RNLI is urging people not to take inflatables to the beach, urging them to be aware of the tide times, local hazards and potentially deadly rip currents.

Beach capacity

Some areas urged people to avoid packed-out beaches on Saturday as the sunny weather continues.

Thanet District Council asked people to avoid four of the area’s beaches, including Margate’s Main Sands, due to the number of visitors.

Council leader Rick Everitt told Press Association: “Early on, it became clear that they were going to reach levels of which we were concerned about.”

Authorities expressed concern about keeping tourists safe in the water, as well as the potential spread of Covid-19 and maintaining social distancing.

“The RNLI only have a certain capacity,” Mr Everitt said.

“They’re on seven Thanet beaches this summer, which is slightly fewer than usual, and they’re doing a great job where they are but they don’t have unlimited resources to deal with people in the water.

“If you have too many people on the beach, it just becomes unmanageable from that point of view.”

Sunny weekend

The Met Office said temperatures will be back closer to average across the weekend, though the South East of England will see continued sun.

Temperatures could reach 26C or 27C on Saturday, with milder highs of 23C or 24C expected on Sunday.

Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said “the weekend is going to be pretty good”, and added: “Both days are going to be mostly dry across the UK with sunny spells and some showers at times that may be out to the north and the west of the country.”

The “flash in the pan” spike in temperatures on Friday were caused by hot air arriving from the South meeting a high pressure system over the UK.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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