LIFEBOAT crews in north Essex have joined force with the coastguard for a safety campaign urging parents to protect their families while at their coast.

Following the easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions in England, many more people are expected to visit the coast to exercise and take part in water-based activities.

Last weekend alone, coastguard rescue teams were called out 194 times across the country.

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have now launched a new beach safety campaign, urging people to follow safety advice to save lives.

Parents are being urged to take charge and be “beach smart” to have a safe summer, whether lifeguards are patrolling their beach or not.

Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said: ‘We know from sad experience that whether you’re local or nor, whatever your ability of experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does.

“Now, more than ever we need people to respect the sea and the coast.”

“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."

People are being advised not to use inflatables, to check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage, to keep a close eye on your family and not allowing anyone to swim alone.

And if you fall into the water unexpectedly, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float.

Area lifesaving manager, Graeme Richardson, said: "The current pandemic continues to have a huge impact on all emergency services.

"Despite the difficulties caused by new rules on social distancing, working practices and PPE, we’re continuing to provide our world-class lifeboat service all along the Essex coast.

"But the recent easing of lockdown restrictions has brought with it a huge rise in coastal activity, and increased to onus on everyone to take responsibility for their own safety.

"That’s why we’re repeating our message to please leave inflatables at home, look out for your family at all times and have a plan that includes checking the weather forecast, tide times and beach safety signs.

"And most importantly, if you or someone you see is in difficulty, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."

The warnings come after two teenagers from Luton died in the sea at Clacton in August last year.

Haider Ali, 18, and sister Malika Shamas, 14, drowned after getting into difficulty near a groyne in the sea off West Greensward.

Chelmsford Coroner’s Court issued a prevention of future death report to deal with the matter of signs at Clacton beach, which the coroner said could be in a larger print and more child-friendly.

The inquest also heard the nearest beach patrol officer surveying the waters was 375 meters away on West Beach.