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RNLI issues safety warning after two kayakers capsize during ebbing spring tide

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards at Crantock Beach, Cornwall, have issued a safety warning after two kayakers got into difficulty kayaking down the Gannel Estuary.


Two kayakers got into difficulty on the River Gannel

The kayakers were spotted at 4.35pm on Tuesday 23 May by the on duty senior lifeguard clinging to the front of their kayaks, which were heading out to sea in extremely strong currents.

Lifeguard Supervisor John Steadman says: Two lifeguards and I were in wetsuits after completing some training so we were able to respond to the incident immediately. We were soon on scene and with the use of three rescue boards and a lot of hard paddling against the ebbing river current we were able to retrieve both the kayaks and persons involved. They were very appreciative and realised how lucky they were that we were on duty. Thankfully they were both wearing lifejackets, which I think saved them from possibly drowning.’

The Gannel Estuary links up to the main beach at Crantock and during spring tides it becomes extremely dangerous with a lot of water moving back out to sea.

RNLI lifeguards recommend people thinking of going into the Rivel Gannel to speak to the lifeguards on the beach first to make them aware of their intentions and capabilities. Signage is placed along the river banks on a daily basis advising the public not to enter.

John added: ‘The lifeguards complete roving face to face patrols asking people not to go into the river. We suggest they come around to the main beach and use the flagged areas provided. During peak season we buoy off a small area of the river and have a mobile lifeguard unit in place to provide a safe area for the public to use if they wish to cool off in the river.’

The RNLI advises people who fall into the water unexpectedly to fight their instincts and remember one core survival skill – floating, until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath. This key message is the main focus of the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water, which is now in its fourth year and launched last month. Having floated until cold water shock passes, the RNLI then advises to try swimming to safety or to call for help if you are able to do so.

The Respect the Water campaign will run throughout the summer and the charity is asking people to visit where they will find information on the effects of cold water shock and floating techniques.

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The kayakers capsized during strong currents


RNLI Lifeguards rescued two kayakers who had capsized


RNLI Lifeguards came to the aid of two kayakers who they spotted in difficulty

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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 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.

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