Lifeguards’ warning after 20 rescues in four days at Ogmore beach – New sandbanks are safety hazards

By Contributed Item in Emergency Services

RNLI lifeguards and Penybont Surf Lifesaving Club members have issued a safety warning to visitors of a local beach after a series of multiple rescues in a river mouth.

Lifeguards from the RNLI charity and the surf lifesaving club have rescued more than 20 people from the river at Ogmore beach over the last two weekends, including three young children who became stranded on July 2.

Now they are warning people about the dangers of swimming in the rivermouth area and urging visitors to swim in the safer lifeguarded area between the red and yellow flags.

An area next to the river at Ogmore by Sea, which is usually rocky, has become covered by sand and there have been higher than normal numbers of visitors using this section of the beach to base themselves.

Many are being tempted to swim in the river, unaware of the depth of the water or the unpredictable currents running in the water there.

On Sunday, July 2, there were two incidents where three young people got into difficulty after entering the river from the newly formed sandbanks.

RNLI lifeguard Dave Allen first spotted three teenagers enter the river at about 1.30pm. On a flooding tide, the current was swirling and despite being close to the edge of the river, none could make it back to shore.

Dave immediately entered the water with a rescue tube and brought the weakest swimmer back to shore.

On weekends, the RNLI lifeguard service is supported by volunteers from Penybont SLSC and club member Richard Watkins paddled out on a surf rescue board to assist.

By this time, Dave had safely taken the first girl to shore and was keeping the second afloat with a rescue tube. She was taken onto the surf rescue board and returned to shore.

The third teenager – a boy – was able to tread water and was assisted back to shore. All three were checked over and given safety advice.

At around 3pm, Dave saw a young boy about eight years old take a step off a sandbank into the river with a bodyboard.

He was out of his depth and by now the tide was ebbing and the current quickly took him outwards.

Dave again entered the water with a rescue tube and quickly reached the struggling child, bringing him back to the safety of the shore.

Meanwhile, two more children of similar age, one girl and one boy, stepped off the bank and were immediately in trouble in the deep water of the river.

This time, Penybont SLSC member Huw Ruddell was on hand to support Dave and paddled a surf rescue board out to the children, who were panicking and using their bodyboards to stay afloat.

All three were returned to shore, made comfortable and checked over by the lifeguards.

The two incidents on Sunday come a week after around 20 other people were rescued from the river mouth by Penybont SLSC members the previous weekend, before the RNLI lifeguard service began.

Ross Gribble, RNLI lifeguard supervisor, said: “The number of people rescued and assisted from the river area at Ogmore by Sea over the last two weekends by both our lifeguards and Penybont SLCS members prove how careful people need to be there.

“The newly formed sandbanks may look like an inviting spot to swim from, but the river quickly gets deep and has strong and unpredictable currents.

“Anyone visiting Ogmore by Sea or any of beach with RNLI lifeguards should always swim between the red and yellow flags, which have been identified by lifeguards as the safest place to swim and is supervised by lifeguards at all times.

“We would also like to thank Penybont SLSC for their support. This weekend’s rescues prove the importance of the partnership in the area.”

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