Much of the public rescue equipment (PRE) found on UK beaches is not fit for purpose. In some cases, this has led to drownings.
The RNLI, in consultation with other water-related bodies, has produced the world's first coastal managers' guide to PRE. Previously, there were no standards in the UK to help coastal managers determine and manage their PRE requirements.
Working with the University of Wales Institute and the University of Plymouth, a robust testing methodology was developed and implemented, with trials undertaken in a survival tank and in various coastal environments.
More than 500 public trials took place to identify the most effective PRE. Research was also conducted on the following aspects of PRE: emergency communications, most suitable locations, maintenance, auditing tools and frequency of checks, signage, user-instruction information and ways to reduce vandalism and theft.
The 50-page publication, A Guide to Coastal Public Rescue Equipment, was launched in the UK in June 2007. Copies have now been distributed to all UK coastal managers and private beach owners.