The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has urged the public not to swim in the sea during the coronavirus pandemic.
The charity says although a dip may seem a tempting form of exercise, it could put their limited resources under increasing strain.
Even a fit and competent swimmer could encourage those less able to enter the sea, and the consequences could be serious, said Gareth Morrison, head of water safety at the RNLI.
“We know people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI lifeboat volunteers and other emergency services,” he said.
“Since lockdown was introduced around the UK coast, our lifeboats have been called out all too often to rescue people. So if you do go for a walk or a run at the coast, please follow the RNLI’s safety advice.”
The charity has also issued advice to runners and walkers taking exercise on the coastline, including taking care near cliffs and checking the weather forecast and tide times.
If you fall into the water unexpectedly, fight your instinct to thrash around and instead lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float.
Those involved in or witnessing any coastal emergency should dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
“Our lifeboat crews are still at the ready 24/7 – thanks to their own courage in a time of crisis, and the generosity of our supporters,” added Mr Morrison.
“Sadly, though, we can’t arrange fundraising events, open our shops, or welcome people to lifeboat stations at the moment, which means our ability to fundraise has been severely impacted. This could be the biggest storm the RNLI has ever faced.
“If people feel compelled to show their support from home, we ask them to help by giving something that keeps our volunteers ready to launch, replaces worn-out kit or helps us repair a lifeboat.”
To support RNLI lifesavers, visit www.rnli.org/donate