RNLI urges people not to use the sea for exercise or recreation

Lifeboats Statement

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is advising the public that they should not take part in any water based activity on or in the sea, to reduce the risk to the lifesaving charity’s volunteer crews and other emergency services being exposed to COVID-19, and the pressure on their time.

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Lytham St Annes Shannon class lifeboat Barbara Anne 13-24 at sea in rough weather.

Under normal circumstances, many people would be heading to the coast this weekend to enjoy the Easter bank holiday. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, the RNLI is urging everyone to follow Government instructions, which are clear: stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

While you are allowed out for daily exercise, we do not recommend that this exercise is on or in the sea. Our charity’s lifeboat service is still available but every time a lifeboat crew is called to an incident, it puts additional pressure on RNLI volunteers and other front line emergency services as well as potentially exposing them to COVID-19.

Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI, said:

‘We know people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI lifeboat volunteers and other emergency services. While you could be fully competent and never needed to be rescued, by going out on the water you could encourage others who are less proficient to take part in similar activities.

‘Since lockdown was introduced around the UK coast, our lifeboats have been called out all too often to rescue people. So if you do go for a walk or a run at the coast, please follow the RNLI’s safety advice.’

  • Take care near cliffs - know your route and your limitations
  • Check the weather forecast and tide times
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
  • In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard
Gareth added: ‘Our lifeboat crews are still at the ready 24/7 – thanks to their own courage in a time of crisis, and the generosity of our supporters. Sadly, though, we can't arrange fundraising events, open our shops, or welcome people to lifeboat stations at the moment, which means our ability to fundraise has been severely impacted. This could be the biggest storm the RNLI has ever faced.

‘If people feel compelled to show their support from home, we ask them to help by giving something that keeps our volunteers ready to launch, replaces worn-out kit or helps us repair a lifeboat. To support our lifesavers, go to: www.rnli.org/donate

Notes to editors

  • There will be no RNLI lifeguard patrols at any beaches this weekend as the planned rollout of lifeguard patrols was postponed until further notice following the Government instruction to stay at home.
  • Interviews available via phone or Skype.

RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact the National RNLI Press Office on 01202 336 789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

RNLI online
For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.

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 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.