Euro 2016 fans urged not to ‘drown their sorrows’ by RNLI London Lifeboats

Lifeboats News Release

Euro 2016 fans flocking to bars and pubs along the River Thames in London have been urged not to ‘drown their sorrows’ as part the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) Respect the Water safety campaign, launched today (June 9).

Crews from London’s three RNLI lifeboat stations are expecting a busy month, fearing football fans will risk their lives jumping, swimming or even slipping into the Thames, fuelled by alcohol and bravado from watching matches and drinking in pubs along the waterfront.

Adam Robson, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager for London, said: ‘Respect the Water is targeted at men, particularly those aged 16 to 39, who are most likely to get into danger* or take unnecessary risks by the Thames. Pubs will likely be packed with fans drinking and enjoying the matches with their mates. Our concern is what happens afterwards, win or lose. After a few pints, a dip in the river to cool off can feel tempting but you could end up drowning more than your sorrows.

‘People need to treat the water with respect – it’s powerful and unpredictable. Cold water is a real killer. People often don’t realise the River Thames is cold enough to trigger cold water shock. You’ll start gasping uncontrollably, which can draw water into your lungs and cause you to drown in minutes. The coldness also numbs you, leaving you helpless and unable to swim or shout for help.

‘We want everyone to enjoy the River Thames this summer, as thousands of people do each year, however too many people get into trouble after taking unnecessary risks.

In London alone last year, RNLI London Lifeboat crews at Teddington, Chiswick and Tower (next to Waterloo Bridge) rescued 245 people and saved 19 lives.

Alcohol and high spirits are just two of the dangers highlighted by Respect the Water. Whether you’re walking by the River Thames or visiting the seaside, educating yourself about local dangers and tide times could save your life.

Just this week a group of 34 London school children and two adults had a lucky escape when they became trapped between a rising tide and dangerous cliffs prone to rock falls, on the coast near Dover. Three RNLI lifeboats along with a Coastguard helicopter and rescue team plucked the group to safety during a late night rescue.

Around half of the people who die at the coast each year never planned to enter the water. Of the 168 deaths last year, over half (52%) did not intend to get wet – people taking part in activities such as coastal walking, running, climbing or angling. In fact, coastal walking and running accounted for over one-fifth (21%) of last year’s coastal deaths.

With this in mind, Adam urged Londoners planning to visit the seaside this summer to take care. He added: ‘The fact that more than half of the people who die at the coast each year never planned to enter the water suggests people are also not taking enough care along the coastline itself. We’re warning people to.

• stay away from cliff edges, particularly where there is slippery, unstable or uneven ground
• stick to marked paths and keep an eye on the water – watch out for unexpected waves which can catch you out and sweep you into the water. – watch out for unexpected waves which can catch you out and sweep you into the water.
• If you’re visiting a beach please use a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags.

‘If you’re planning to get into the water be aware that, even if it looks calm on the surface, there can be strong rip currents beneath the surface, which can quickly drag you out to sea. The sea is powerful and can catch out even the strongest and most experienced swimmers.’

The Respect the Water campaign will run throughout the summer across a number of media formats including cinema, outdoor, radio, online, and, for the first time, on catch-up TV channels.

The charity is asking people to visit where they will find information on how to stay safe.

Notes to editors

* The campaign is targeted at adult men, who account for most incidents. Last year saw an increase in the number of men losing their lives at the coast. Between 2011 and 2014 men have accounted for three-quarters (75%) of coastal deaths but, in 2015, this increased to 84%

RNLI media contacts

For more information, contact Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager south east and London, on 07785 296252 / or James Oxley, RNLI Press Officer south east and London, on 07786 668825 /

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.