RNLI Designs Innovative New Bottle Ring Guide to Help Reduce Global Drowning

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI has released an innovative new low-cost resource to help at-risk communities in low and middle-income countries prevent drowning.


New bottle ring

The new bottle ring guide gives step-by-step advice on how to create a simple fabric ring that can be used to save lives using reused plastic bottles.

The bottle ring is easy to produce, the fabric ring holds three, two litre bottles and gives a similar buoyancy to a plastic life ring. The bottle ring costs as little as 50p, in contrast to the £40 cost of a life-ring that would be used in the UK and Ireland. The instructions have been produced so that communities that do not have access to high cost and compliant lifesaving equipment can work with local tailors to easily create the bottle ring at a low-cost.

The bottle ring manual was designed and produced by an RNLI team with the support of key partners including the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research in Bangladesh and Sheringham Primary School in Norfolk.

The bottle rings, along with a design for a community produced rescue throwline, are already in use in Bangladesh, which has seen severe flooding in the country over the past few weeks. MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) has been using the designs along with the RNLI’s existing flood rescue training manual which has resulted in the recent rescue of 11 year-old boy who was drowning.

John Powell, International Programme Manager at the RNLI says: “We are really pleased to launch the new bottle ring guide which we hope will make an impact in at-risk communities across the world. Every year, 320,000 die from drowning globally, over 90% of global drownings happen in low and middle-income countries.”

“We’ve worked on this new resource for two years and are thrilled that we’re now able to share it with those that most need it. The guide is already being used in Bangladesh which has seen severe flooding in recent weeks, so we know it’s already making a difference on the ground.”

Paul Chamberlain, Operations and Logistics Coordinator from MOAS said: “We first started working with the RNLI in 2018 when they provided flood and rescue training to our staff and other organisations in Bangladesh, along with equipment and resources. Since then, we’ve been working closely with the community in Bangladesh, both refugees and the host community, to train them in life-saving skills.

“A lot of our work is centred around water safety training in the refugee camps in Bangladesh at the moment, flooding has hit the area hard and it’s imperative that the community can respond to drowning themselves. We’re delighted to be working alongside RNLI in Cox’s Bazaar, to refine existing designs of low resource rescue equipment and training programs. MOAS has trained 1,300 refugees using training designed to fall in line with global best practice as recognised by RNLI. We’ve also equipped all trainees with equipment pioneered by the RNLI to prevent drowning.”

Recently an 11 year old Rohingya boy bathed in a lake to wash his clothes after playing football. He suddenly found himself several metres from the bank and started to panic. Thankfully five other boys heard his shouts, including those trained by MOAS, and they arrived on the scene with locally made throw bags which were produced based on RNLI designs and threw out a float attached to a rope, hauling the boy back to safety. It’s clear to see how important these resources are.

Drowning overwhelmingly affects countries with the fewest resources to prevent it. Many communities and organisations struggle because they don’t have access to the rescue equipment they need. The design also allows communities to reuse plastic that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

The rescue bottle ring guide, along with several other lifesaving resources can be downloaded here: https://rnli.org/what-we-do/international/lifesaving-interventions/sustainable-lifesaving-equipment

The RNLI has been working with partners internationally for several years, sharing its years of lifesaving knowledge and experience to make a difference worldwide. For more information about the RNLI’s international work please visit: https://rnli.org/what-we-do/international


Bottle ring in classroom in Bangladesh

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 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 by email.