LIFEGUARDS will return to west Dorset beaches this coming weekend.

The RNLI has announced West Bay and Lyme Regis will be included in its latest rollout of the service.

The life-saving charity hopes to have lifeguards on more than 70 per cent the beaches across the south west it normally guards by the beginning of July, despite the ongoing corona virus pandemic.

Teams have been working hard to reintroduce the service and the announcement comes as warmer weather and large swell is forecast for the coming week.

From Saturday, July 4 July, RNLI lifeguard patrols will start at Lyme Regis and West Bay.

Guy Botterill, RNLI area life-saving manager, said: “The charity has been providing a lifeguard service on a limited number of beaches since the beginning of June which has enabled us to thoroughly test the new ways of working, PPE, staffing and new equipment as a result of coronavirus.

“Despite the continuing challenges created by the pandemic, we are now confident we can provide a safe, comprehensive lifeguard service this summer. It has taken a lot of hard work by the whole team, especially our RNLI lifeguard supervisors and technicians, but we are really pleased to be able to provide safety cover on over 70 per cent of the beaches we’d usually cover by the beginning of July.

"In order to ensure the safety of both our lifeguards and the public at this time, the charity has had to provide lifeguards with the appropriate PPE and enhanced training supporting the new operating procedures and precautions that must be taken in order to manage the challenges of Coronavirus, in addition to the other demands of their role."

The charity says the service looks a little different this year. Lifeguards will wear PPE similar to ambulance crews in some situations.

New protocols for all first responders mean the lifeguards may not deal with some minor first aid cases but will support people to treat themselves.

They will also try to keep socially distant from beachgoers, and may need to adopt different patrol methods at times, such as not using the red and yellow flags and asking people to keep apart but close to shore, to help keep people safe while maintaining social distancing.

Mr Botterill said: “With the large surf conditions forecast coupled with spring tides, rips currents will be stronger than normal. We are urging surfers and bathers to not enter the water alone, always go to a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguards and local surfers for advice.

“With the summer solstice in full swing it will be light until 10pm for the next couple of weeks so please be careful if you are surfing or swimming outside of lifeguarded hours. Know your limits and know what to do if you are caught in a rip current or get into difficulty. Keep hold of your board or floatation device and paddle parallel to the shore.”

Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember and follow RNLI safety advice:

• Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage

• Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water

• Do not allow your family to swim or surf alone

• Do not use inflatables

• If you fall into the water unexpectedly, float to live, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float

• In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the coastguard