RNLI lifeguarded beaches don’t all provide wristbands with contact details for children

25 May 2022
What was claimed

When parents arrive on an RNLI lifeguarded beach they should take their child to the lifeguard hut where they can get a free wristband that their parents’ phone number can be written on in waterproof ink.

Our verdict

Some RNLI lifeguards may provide these wristbands but it is not a nationwide policy.

What was claimed

All RNLI lifeguards are DBS checked.

Our verdict

Correct. The RNLI says it’s a requirement of employment that its lifeguards have a DBS check.

A Facebook post shared over 2,000 times claims that Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguarded beaches offer free wristbands for children on which their parents can write their phone numbers in waterproof ink, so that lifeguards can contact parents of children they may be separated from. 

The RNLI, which aims to provide lifeguards on over 240 beaches at the height of the summer season, told Full Fact that it does not operate this service, but said that RNLI lifeguards would be able to advise if such a scheme was operating in an area they patrol.

A spokesperson told Full Fact: “We don't operate a wristband scheme, but we do support initiatives that aim to keep children safe at the beach. These are organised locally by landowners or communities, and may not be present on every beach.

“Our lifeguards will be able to advise where a wristband scheme is operating in an area and on some lifeguarded beaches may be able to provide you with a wristband. If you are visiting the beach we advise visiting a lifeguarded one and our lifeguards will be able to provide advice on how to have an enjoyable and safe day at the coast.”

Some local RNLI operations have run similar schemes, in the past at least.

Its website announced the launch of a wristband scheme for lost children in Yorkshire in June 2019, stating: “Parents or guardians are being invited to write their mobile phone number on a free paper wristband which is available at the lifeboat and lifeguard stations and shops all along the Yorkshire coast.”

A website called the Isle of Thanet News reported the scheme coming to beaches in Thanet too, in August 2019.

Are all RNLI lifeguards DBS checked?

The post also claims that RNLI lifeguards are “DRB checked”.

This term appears to mix up the now defunct CRB check and current DBS checks. DBS checks are a way to see if someone has a criminal record and whether they are on any barred lists, meaning they can’t work with certain vulnerable people.

RNLI told Full Fact: “It is a requirement of employment of our lifeguards that they have a current Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check.”

Image courtesy of Ray Harrington

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because not all beaches lifeguarded by the RNLI will offer such wristbands.

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