RECKLESS bathers are putting their lives at risk this summer according to the RNLI who have been called out nearly 100 times already this year.

Southend lifeboat crews are experiencing their busiest summer for years, as crowds flock to the seafront to enjoy one of the hottest summers on record.

The lifeboats, which are manned by volunteers, have attended almost as many incidents in the first seven months of this year as the whole of 2014.

The charity, which is one of the busiest stations in the country, has blamed bathers who ignore safety warnings, such as avoiding Second World War relic Mulberry Harbour, for the increase in demand.

Den Freeman, of Southend RNLI, said: “We have had some good weather and people haven’t been heeding the safety advice.

“A lot of it is people going out to the Mulberry Harbour or going out on to the foreshore mud without footwear.

“The mud is gorgeous, but people walk out and then back over shellfish beds.

“We have a lot of people end up in casualty with cuts to their feet.”

Crews have been called out 90 times so far this year, compared to 76 times in the seven months up to the end of July 2014 and 84 times in same period in 2013.

The lifeboatmen were called out a total of 116 times last year and 143 times in 2013.

Their two inflatable D-class lifeboats, which are more manoeuvrable and often operate closer to shore, have been launched 29 times, their rigid Atlantic 75 has been called out 30 times and the hovercraft, which can travel across the muddy foreshore as well as water, has been launched 31 times.

Southend Council estimates six million people visit the town each year, but some ignore its advice to wear footwear even when bathing to protect feet from sharp sea shells and broken glass.

Many young people also ignore warnings against jumping off man-made structures, such as the Mulberry Harbour, one-anda- half miles off Thorpe Bay.

The long, shallow foreshore also means the tide rises quickly, leading some people to be cut off.

Martin Terry, Southend councillor responsible for public protection, said: “Just a little forethought can help families stay safe and well to enjoy summer to the full.

“We would also urge all our visitors and residents to do their best to help us keep our beaches as clean as possible for everyone by taking their litter home with them, particularly items which can be dangerous such as glass.”