BEACH-GOERS are being warned about the dangers of rip currents after a father and his nine-year-old son were saved from drowning in Scarborough’s South Bay.
The pair, from Glasgow, were spotted by one of the RNLI’s lifeguards at 2.30pm on Saturday, around half a kilometre outside the safe swim area marked by red and yellow flags.
He suspected they were caught in a rip current and immediately alerted fellow lifeguards Tim Machon and Jack Perry, who ran from the patrolled area down to the water’s edge, collecting a paddleboard en route.
The two casualties were struggling to stay afloat around 90m from shore, close to an area called Children’s Corner.
Both were completely exhausted and unable to make any progress to shore independently so Mr Perry transported the boy back to the beach on the board while Mr Machon towed the father using his rescue tube.
Following the rescue, Mr Machon said: “On a lifeguarded beach, people should always swim between the red and yellow flags. Each day, we assess the safest area for swimming, taking into account a number of safety factors including the position of rip currents, which can quickly take even the strongest swimmers some distance out to sea. It can be quite frightening if you get caught in a rip current and don’t know what to do.
“People drown in rips because they panic. If possible, people should stay calm and try to swim across the current rather than against it, or just float. Raise an arm to signal for help and if possible shout to shore for help. Then float and wait for assistance. If you think you are able to swim in, swim parallel to the beach until out of the effects of the rip and then make your way to shore.”
Two men in their 20s also got into difficulty in a rip current on Whitby on Sunday.
RNLI lifeguard Josh Jones saw that they were getting into difficulty and alerted his colleague Callum Norman, who ran up the beach and entered the water. He swam out around 50 metres to reach the two, who were now struggling in the water and being buffeted by a strong swell. Mr Norman used his rescue tube to bring both the exhausted men back to shore, where they were treated with oxygen and then taken to hospital by ambulance.
The RNLI is urgingt people to ensure they swim within the red and yellow flags on lifeguarded beaches. The safe-swim area is away from rips, which are strong currents running out to sea and can quickly take swimmers from shallow water out beyond their depth. They are especially powerful in larger surf but are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.