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RNLI New Brighton and Wirral Coastguard urge water safety for school holidays

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI New Brighton Lifeboat Station and Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team, supported by RNLI lifeguards, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service, issue water safety advice for families heading to the peninsula’s beaches over the summer break.

In all types of difficulty beachgoers may find themselves in on the coast, both agencies advise that the first thing to do is dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard, who will send the right help for the situation.

Already this year, emergency teams have been involved with multiple mud rescues and walkers cut off by the tide, as well as boats and yachts stranded on the River Mersey.

Ian Thornton, RNLI New Brighton Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘Our volunteer lifeboat crew have been tasked 31 times this year on a range of rescues including people stuck in mud during flooding tides and onboard boats with engine failure.

‘In some of these cases, it was sheer luck that a passerby spotted someone in trouble and raised the alarm. In others it was because the casualties were able to phone the Coastguard that they were rescued in time. We can’t stress enough that visitors to our coast always have a means of calling for help that they can reach if in trouble.’

Although not intending to get wet when on Wirral beaches, walkers stuck in mud and those cut off by the tide, are among the common reasons for emergency rescue.

Michael Buratti, Station Officer for Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team said: ‘Our coastline is extremely attractive but it’s not without its dangers. There are patches of mud around our beaches which may look like wet sand. You can easily get trapped in the mud which can be extremely frightening.’

The Coastguard team advises beach visitors to avoid soft mud patches altogether but that if stuck, to follow these steps:
  • Stay calm and try to spread your weight as evenly as possible across the surface
  • Avoid moving around too much
  • Discourage well-meaning members of the public from attempting to rescue you as they may get stuck too
  • Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

To avoid being cut off by fast incoming water when venturing out to sandbanks and islands, walkers should check the weather forecast and tide times before setting off. And make sure someone else knows where they are going and when they expect to be back.

Inflatables in the sea also cause concern for the water rescue teams. ‘Blow-up boats and toys are great fun in the swimming pool, but they’re best avoided at the seaside,’ Michael said. ‘These can easily drift out to sea and you may not notice until you’re a long way from shore and out of your depth.

‘If you find yourself being swept out to sea, stay with your inflatable and shout for help, waving your arms if possible. Don’t try to swim for shore if you are out of your depth.’

Further advice for keeping safe on beaches includes:

‘No matter how visitors choose to enjoy their time on our Wirral beaches, as a lifesaving charity our volunteers want everyone to head home safely at the end of each day,’ said RNLI’s Ian Thornton. ‘Knowing what to do by following RNLI and Coastguard advice can make all the difference.’

Michael Buratti continued: ‘We always urge people to have fun but stay safe when out enjoying our beautiful Wirral coastline, particularly during the summer holidays and periods of hot weather. Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team is made up of volunteers who are ready to respond along with our partner agencies, to coastal emergencies.’

Notes to editors:

Video credit: Merseyside Drone Services

Line up of emergency teams in front of their service vehicles with Fort Perch Rock as a backdrop

RNLI/Cherie Rowlands

Wirral partner agencies line up at Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton to promote water safety
Lighthouse surrounded by sand with water, Fort Perch Rock and the multi-agency group in the background

RNLI/Merseyside Drone Services

New Brighton Lighthouse surrounded by sand in an area that floods during incoming tides
Line up of Wirral agences waving in front of their vehicles with Fort Perch Rock in the background

RNLI/Merseyside Drone Services

Partner agencies want people to be safe on Wirral beaches

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.

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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.