RNLI unveils the drinks machine that could save you from drowning in Cornwall

Lifeguards News Release

In an effort to save our seas whilst saving lives, the RNLI has unveiled two water refill stations in north Cornwall.

Lee Congdon, Co-Founder of Sipple, with Steve Instance, Community Safety Partner at the RNLI and Steve Chamberlain, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor at Perranporth Beach.

RNLI/Dan Sedgwick

Lee Congdon, Co-Founder of Sipple, with Steve Instance, Community Safety Partner at the RNLI and Steve Chamberlain, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor at Perranporth Beach
These stations will dispense free drinking water over the next three months in exchange for a safety advice question being answered.

People looking to refill their water bottles will be asked which colour flags on the beach mark the lifeguarded area. When they provide the correct answer, the red and yellow flags, the water will be dispensed. If they get the answer wrong, the correct answer will be displayed along with a prompt to have another go at answering the question.

The stations dispense freshly filtered, UV purified water at ambient temperature for free, whilst chilled water costs just 35p for 500ml. Those without a water bottle have the option to purchase a reusable Chilly’s Bottle for £20.

The hydration stations will be based at Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay and on Perranporth Beach for the next three months. The idea was developed by Guy Hayler, Managing Director of south-west based creative agency Wavelength Media, in conjunction with sustainable hydration provider Sipple.

The stations are a response to a challenge set by the RNLI as part of its Design Out Drowing programme.

The programme challenged designers and communities to explore how to reduce coastal drowning in Cornwall and Devon by rethinking how and where safety messages and drowning prevention interventions are deployed. As part of this programme, the RNLI is also trialing a safety campaign this summer using high impact sand art to highlight tidal cut off locations and the locations of rip currents, encouraging people to swim between the red and yellow flags.

Guy said: ‘We are really excited about the launch of these stations. The concept is simple: users unlock free water by answering a safety question that might save their lives. We hope that this interaction will bring beach safety to the front of people’s minds. These stations enable us to educate people visiting the beach in important safety advice, reduce the prevalence of single-use plastics on the Cornish coastline and help people to stay hydrated on the beach.’

The project’s success in changing beach users’ behaviour will be monitored before the lifesaving charity can assess its potential to be rolled out to other locations in the future.

Steve Instance, RNLI Community Safety Manager for the south west, said: ‘Last year, 25 people lost their lives on the coast in the south west. Too many people are being caught out in rip currents, or getting into difficulty in the water, so we’re exploring new ways of raising awareness of these dangers.

‘We hope that having these stations on Perranporth Beach and at Hendra Holiday Park will encourage people to swim between the red and yellow flags patrolled by our lifeguards. We’re absolutely committed to reducing the number of people who drown around the coast and this is a new concept that could help achieve that.’

Last year, the charity’s lifeguards attended 19,449 incidents and aided 32,207 people.

Steve Chamberlain, Lifeguard Supervisor, with the Hydration Station.

RNLI/Dan Sedgwick

Steve Chamberlain, Lifeguard Supervisor, with the Hydration Station
Two girls with the Hydration Station at Perranporth Beach.

RNLI/Dan Sedgwick

Hydration Station at Perranporth Beach in action
Guy Hayler

RNLI/Guy Hayler

Guy Hayler

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.

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 by email.