VISITORS to the Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire coast are being urged to take care as the first week of the school holidays begins.

New figures released show that RNLI lifeguards in Wales aided 888 children, aged under 12, and 715 teenagers last year.

They are reported to have saved the lives of 12 youngsters between June and September.

"We see a big increase in the number of incidents in the sea involving children and teenagers during the school summer holidays," said RNLI Water Safety Lead Chris Cousens.

"We would urge everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.

"Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.

"RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

"Children should be supervised at all times and people of all ages should avoid swimming alone.

"We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency."

Most of those offered help on the RNLI’s lifeguarded beaches in Wales were simply out enjoying a walk, and not expecting to even get into the water.

A total of 270 teenagers (aged 12-18) were assisted whilst out enjoying a stroll as well as 207 children (aged 1-12).

This figure is amongst the highest in the UK and Ireland, showing Wales is a hot spot for people becoming cut off by the tide.

Those rescued whilst walking is significantly higher than all other activities, including paddling where 78 children and 84 teens were rescued.

Some 62 children and 31 teens were reported to have been assisted by lifeguards whilst playing on the coast.

Last year, those under the age of 18 requiring the RNLI’s assistance whilst swimming amounted to a total of 78 incidents.

The RNLI's key summer safety advice is:

• Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags;

• If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about;

• Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have launched a new children’s tv advert to help reinforce the beach safety message.