RNLI volunteer interrupts holiday to rescue man from canal

Lifeboats News Release

When you are a volunteer for the RNLI you are never off duty from saving lives as Jan Harris demonstrated recently when she was holidaying on a narrowboat and witnessed a man fall from his boat.


Jan and her husband with their narrowboat

The skipper had been on the bank when he realised he’d left the boat in gear. He attempted to jump onto it but missed and fell into the canal.

Jan, a Youth Education Volunteer who supports with Chiswick educational visits, ran to the man. He’d managed to swim to the side of the canal and grab hold of the bank. Utilising the safety skills that she teaches, she ensured the man was calm and able to float until her husband and fellow boaters were able to lift him out of the water.

In the meantime, another boater managed to get aboard the moving boat to cut the engine and secure the boat.

Jan said, ‘As an education volunteer I am used to giving safety advice about what to do in an emergency, but I had to put the theory into practise! We managed to get him out within five minutes, and he was able to have a shower on his boat.

Although we did not need to ring the emergency services this time, it is imperative that in emergency situations you ring 999 or 112. Do not enter the water after someone, but if you do end up in cold water then remember to float on your back in a star motion, gently moving your arms and legs, until the cold water shock passes; this should be within sixty to ninety seconds.’

Media contacts

For more information, or for interview requests, contact Julie Rainey, Regional Media Manager for London and the south east, on 07827 358 256 / julie_rainey@rnli.org.uk , Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer on 07785 296 252 or paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 / pressoffice@rnli.org.uk

Notes for Editors

More information on Float to Live and our Respect the Water campaign can be found at https://www.respectthewater.com/

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.