DORSET lifeguards will be visiting more than 40 schools talking to 8,000 schoolchildren in a bid to keep them safe on the south coast’s beaches.

Anticipating another scorching summer, this is the first time the RNLI Dorset Lifeguard team is visiting schools for an intensive period.

And it follows their busiest season last year out of 24 years of safeguarding visitors and local people on the county’s beaches.

With more than 40 primary schools signed up to the scheme, youngsters will benefit from interactive sessions learning about the meaning of beach safety flags, the lifeguards’ role on the beach and how to stay safe in the water.

This includes the safe use of inflatables and bodyboards.

Barry Heathfield, RNLI lifeguard manager, said: “Last summer was the busiest summer in 24 years for Dorset lifeguards, who helped over 3,000 people, of which approximately 65 per cent were children and young people.

“These educational sessions are great for kids, and are a fantastic opportunity for them to learn how to enjoy the beach safely.

“I am especially pleased lifeguards can provide the safety talks to children that live further inland who may not be as familiar with Dorset’s beaches as those who live near the coast.”

The Poole-based RNLI, set up to save lives at sea, has lifeguard patrols on more than 200 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. Last year they responded to 14,519 incidents and assisted 16,414 people.

Twenty-one Dorset beaches have RNLI lifeguard patrols, most of them between May and September, including popular beaches at Bournemouth and Poole, however they also returned to cover the Easter break at the top four. Guides to beach safety are available on the RNLI website and there is a free beach finder app to the RNLI lifeguard covered beaches.