Lifeguard FAQs

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about our lifeguards.

Want to know more? See our lifeguards and beaches pages.

Due to the current global pandemic, we will be patrolling fewer beaches than usual. For the latest information and advice, visit our beach safety page.

How many beaches will be patrolled by rnli lifeguards this summer?

RNLI lifeguards usually patrol over 240 beaches around the UK and the Channel Islands every summer. But due to the coronavirus pandemic this year and lockdown restrictions the government put in place, we had to suspend the roll out of our lifeguarding service. This was to help control spread of the virus and to protect our own lifeguards from the disease.

Despite the challenges of setting up a lifeguard service safely, quickly and with little notice, we plan to roll out our lifeguarding service on our busiest beaches as and when restrictions are eased. We aim to reach 70 beaches by peak season; that’s around 30% of beaches that we would usually cover.

Please be aware that this could change as we respond to a constantly changing environment. While we would really like to give you more certainty, we simply don’t know how the global pandemic may continue to affect our lifeguard service this year. 

To find out if there’s an RNLI lifeguarded beach near you this summer, check our list of lifeguarded beaches for 2020.

For beaches without RNLI lifeguard patrols, please follow and share our beach safety advice to keep you and your loved ones safe

How have you decided which beaches will have lifeguards during the pandemic?

We are selecting beaches based on historical data, such as the number of visitors and number and types of incidents RNLI lifeguards have dealt with in previous years. We are making sure there is a geographical spread so that people do not have to travel too far.

For those beaches where we are not providing our usual lifeguard service this summer, we will be working with the local authorities and landowners on delivering water safety messages to beach visitors so they can keep themselves safe and know what to do in an emergency.

To find out if there’s an RNLI lifeguarded beach near you this summer, check our list of lifeguarded beaches for 2020.

To ensure you and your family enjoy the beach safely, please follow and share our beach safety advice.

How will the role of an RNLI lifeguard change during the pandemic?

Our lifeguards’ role is not to enforce rules, but to offer beach safety advice. We will be working closely with our colleagues in other services, along with local councils and landowners, to encourage the public to adhere to the government’s guidance at the time.

Our lifeguards have a vital role in making sure visitors to the beach are aware of their surroundings and any potential dangers. They will continue to do this where they can whilst observing social distancing measures. Our lifeguards have, and will always be, trained to the highest standard and are provided with the best equipment so that they are prepared for whatever they are faced with on the beach.

Find out more about how we usually run our lifeguard service each summer and how you can protect yourself and your family when our lifeguards can’t this summer.

How long will the RNLI lifeguard season be this summer?

Due to the current global pandemic, we can’t say with any certainty how long the RNLI lifeguard season will be this summer as we don’t know if government restrictions will continue to be relaxed, or if we will go through a period where they are reinstated. This could shorten the lifeguard season at any time. If we continue without a reintroduction of restrictions, our current plan is for our reduced lifeguard service to run until the first week of September 2020.

Please be aware that this could change either way as we respond to a constantly changing environment. While we would really like to give you more certainty, we simply don’t know what external events may affect our lifeguard service this year.

For the latest information and advice, please visit our beach safety page.

How many beach lifeguards do you have on patrol?

Throughout the summer, there are usually some 1,500 RNLI lifeguards patrolling over 240 beaches across the UK and Channel Islands. However, with a reduced number of lifeguarded beaches this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of RNLI lifeguards on patrol will also be significantly reduced.

To find out if there’s an RNLI lifeguarded beach near you this summer, check our list of lifeguarded beaches for 2020.

For beaches without RNLI lifeguard patrols, please follow and share our beach safety advice to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Do you receive funding towards the lifeguard service you provide?

We receive a small amount from the appropriate local authorities and beach owners which helps to meet the cost of lifeguard wages, but the majority of funding for our lifeguard service is from voluntary contributions.

As a charity, our lifesaving service relies on the generosity of our supporters. Read more about how your support helps.

Why are RNLI lifeguards paid?

Lifeguards need to be physically on the beach during the patrolled hours, ready to respond instantly to emergencies and preventing many accidents through their vigilance and advice. Because of this requirement we cannot completely rely on volunteers to provide this coverage 7 days a week.

Learn more about the role of an RNLI lifeguard.

How do I apply to become an RNLI lifeguard?

Applications to become an RNLI lifeguard are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown restrictions imposed by the government meant we had to pause the roll out of our lifeguarding service earlier this year. But as and when restrictions are eased, we plan to roll out the service on a reduced number of beaches this summer. And as and when this happens, applications may reopen.  Please check our recruitment website for updates.

How do I volunteer to become an RNLI Lifeguard?

Volunteering is a great way of gaining practical lifeguarding experience if you are newly qualified or putting your skills to good use if you are experienced and have some spare time.

There are currently no lifeguard volunteer opportunities due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown restrictions imposed by the government meant we had to pause the roll out of our lifeguarding service earlier this year. But as and when restrictions are eased, we plan to roll out the service on a reduced number of beaches this summer. And as and when this happens, lifeguard volunteering opportunities may become available.  Please check our recruitment website for updates.

What are the latest rescue statistics for your lifeguard service?

In 2019, RNLI lifeguards helped 29,334 people and saved 154 lives.

For more rescue statistics see our annual review and report.