RNLI Easter safety warning after sharp rise in people rescued in 2016

Lifeboats News Release

The lifeboat charity has issued a safety warning ahead of the Easter holidays after new figures revealed more than 1,350 people found themselves in danger on the coastline of south Wales in one year.

The Mumbles RNLI was the Welsh station with the highest number of lifeboat launches in 2016

Stephen Duncombe

The Mumbles RNLI was the Welsh station with the highest number of lifeboat launches in 2016

RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews at seven stations from Penarth to Burry Port rescued 381 people in trouble at sea last year – one higher than the 2015 total. The total number of lifeboat launches in the south Wales area in 2016 was 398 – 29 more than in 2015.

The charity’s lifeguards working on 22 west Wales beaches from Freshwater West to Whitmore Bay responded to 868 incidents and rescued or assisted 1,007 people.

The figures come as families think about heading to the Welsh coastline during the Easter break and the RNLI wants to help 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.

Matt Crofts, RNLI Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘Once again we are extremely grateful for the dedication shown by our lifesavers across Wales in 2016. Our volunteer lifeboat crews in Wales spent over 27,820 hours at sea last year, but we really do see our rescue service as a last resort.

‘Our annual Respect The Water drowning prevention campaign will be launching for 2017 soon and we urge people to give the water the heathy respect it deserves. While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people thinking about their safer at the coast.’

Across the whole of Wales’ 30 RNLI stations, there was an increase of 11% on lifeboats launches last year, with crews going to sea on rescue callouts 1,175 times. The number of people rescued was also up 13% to 1,162. A total of 73 lives were saved.

Of the 30 RNLI lifeboat stations around Welsh coast, the three with most launches in 2016 were all in south Wales. The Mumbles RNLI, which has an all-weather and inshore lifeboat, had the highest number of launches for a second year in succession, although their total dropped from 98 to 83. They also rescued 95 people.

Porthcawl RNLI crew, who launched 80 times and rescued 45 people, were again Wales’ busiest inshore lifeboat station team in 2016 in terms of callouts.

Penarth RNLI, which recently closed a successful £52,000 fundraising appeal for a new D class lifeboat, rescued more people than any other station across Wales, at 109. Seven of those were classed as lives saved. Their number of launches also rose significantly to 74, compared with 46 in 2015.

Burry Port RNLI also saw a sharp rise in how many people they rescued last year, jumping from 35 in 2015 to 75 in 2016. The number of launches at both Horton and Port Eynon RNLI on Gower and Barry Dock RNLI lifeboat stations also increased.

Matt Crofts 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.’

The volunteer lifeboat crews carry pagers 24/7, never knowing what may lie ahead when the alarm is raised. Last year saw an increase in people being cut off by the tide, with this cause accounting for 125 lifeboat launches across Wales – up from 111 in 2016. Other causes for lifeboat launches last year include people in danger of drowning (92), missing people (94) and people thought to be in trouble (164).

All-Wales figures for RNLI lifeguards show they responded to 1,271 incidents and rescued or assisted 1,436 people, up on the 2015 figures.

RNLI lifeguards were stationed at 39 beaches across Wales in 2016 – more than ever before – with new safety services launched at Three Cliffs Bay on Gower, four beaches in Porthcawl and Rhyl and Prestatyn beaches in Denbighshire. All beaches will again have a lifeguard service this summer and lifeguards will be on duty at Whitmore Bay on Barry Island, Trecco Bay and Coney beach in Porthcawl, Aberavon beach in Port Talbot, Three Cliffs Bay on Gower, Tenby South beach and Whitesands beach in Pembrokeshire.

Paul Eastment, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘Wales’ beaches will begin to get busier over the Easter period and we urge any anyone visiting the coast over the holiday period to seek safety information and be prepared. We also urge people to visit a lifeguarded beach and seek advice on safety from our fully trained lifeguards.’

Across the UK and Republic of Ireland, lifeboat launches were up 7.5% to 8,851 in 2016 - a five-year high – while the number of people rescued was 8,643, up from 7,973 the previous year.

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Public Relations Manager on 01745 585162 / 07771 941390 or email Eleri_Roberts@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336 789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland