Lifesaving charity warning after 30,000 people find themselves in danger

Lifeboats News Release

In 2016 nearly 30,000 people needed the help of the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards – so the charity is asking people to think, take more care at the coast and respect water.

RNLI lifeboats are on hand 24/7 every day of the year to help those in need and the charity’s lifeguards patrol over 240 beaches around the UK and Ireland between April and September.

The RNLI isn’t just about rescuing people when they find themselves in danger – the charity wants to equip people with the knowledge and skills to avoid trouble in the first place and know what to do should they find themselves or others in danger in the water.

Will Stephens, RNLI Head of Lifesaving said: ‘Once again we are extremely grateful for the dedication shown by our lifesavers. Our volunteer lifeboat crews spent over 228,869 hours at sea last year, 558 people are still alive thanks to the skill and commitment shown by our volunteer crew and lifeguards'

‘We’d really like to see people paying more attention to safety messages and giving the water the respect it deserves. While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people staying safer at the coast.’

The number of lifeboat launches around the coast is up 7% from 2015 to 8,851 in 2016 (a five year high) lifeguard incidents are also at an increase from last year to 17,414. The charity’s lifesavers saved 558 people’s lives last year.

It’ not just those who use water frequently who find themselves needing help, last year proved that a trip to the coast can prove fatal if people do not take care or ask for help.

While thousands of people can celebrate being helped or saved by the RNLI each year, sadly around 190 people die at the UK and Irish coasts each year. Last year, twelve people died in just five days in August. Tragedies like these are something the RNLI wants to minimise through educating people in how to stay safe and knowing what to do should they find themselves or someone else in danger at the coast.

Recognising the need for more awareness of the coast in non-coastal areas, Birmingham City Council are working with the RNLI to deliver safety messaging to children in the city’s schools. This comes as a direct result of a tragic event where two men from the city drowned off the coast of Barmouth. 570 school staff have already been trained and will be delivering the messages in over 200 schools.

There will also be lifeguards at Camber Sands, East Sussex this year a beach which tragically witnessed the deaths of five young men last summer.

Will added: ‘we’re calling on anyone visiting the coast to make safety a priority, whether that means wearing a lifejacket, checking their vessel before they go afloat, knowing they should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency, checking the tide times before they set out, or staying away from cliff edges and unstable coastal paths.’


Notes to editors:

Lifeboat Launches: 8,851

Lifeboat Lives Saved: 431

Lifeboat People Rescued: 8,643

Lifeboat Crew Hours at Sea: 60,306.5

Lifeboat Exercise Hours at Sea: 168562.6

Lifeboat Total Hours at Sea: 228869.1

Thames Launches: 847

Thames Lives Saved: 37

Thames People Rescued: 248

Thames Crew Hours at Sea: 1989.3

Thames Exercise Hours at Sea: 9306.8

Thames Total Hours at Sea: 11296.1

· It’s been the busiest year for lifeboat launches since 2011.

· Launches to people in the water took a 25% increase from 2015.

· Machinery failure continues to be the biggest reason for launching lifeboats.

· Missing people saw a 25% increase against the 2015 figures.

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 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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 or by email.