North West RNLI in school holiday safety plea as youth rescue figures revealed

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI in the North West is calling for families to be extra cautious if visiting the area's beaches, as the latest statistics reveal the North West is a hotspot for those under the age of 18 requiring the RNLI's help.

Stark figures released by the RNLI today reveal lifeguards on the North West’s beaches assisted 2,314 children and 2,007 teenagers last summer – more casualties under the age of 18 than anywhere else in the UK and Ireland, including the popular South West coast. Most of those offered help on the RNLI’s lifeguarded beaches in Sefton and the Wirral were simply out enjoying a walk and not expecting to even get their feet wet.

A total of 1,530 teenagers (aged 13-19) were assisted whilst out enjoying a stroll and 1,522 children (aged 1-12). This figure is markedly higher than anywhere else in the UK and Ireland. Those rescued in the walking category is significantly higher than all other activities including paddling where 23 children and 19 teens were rescued, with 62 children and 31 teens assisted by lifeguards whilst playing on the coast.

Now, with the school holidays approaching, the charity and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard are calling for families to take extra care at the coast.

Huddersfield mum Zoe Powell was enjoying a visit to Crosby beach with her family when son Monty, who was then 13, required help from RNLI lifeguards after becoming stuck in mud. She said:

‘Children are naturally inquisitive and looking for the next adventure, so the figures about the number of Under 18s rescued in the North West are not too surprising. Monty jumped off one of the outflow pipes into soft mud and quickly became stuck. One minute we were walking, the next he couldn't move and had mud up to his knees. It can happen so very quickly and a simple day out can take a very unexpected turn.

‘Luckily the two brilliant RNLI lifeguards who were on patrol saw the situation and came to help really quickly. I can imagine this summer will be exceptionally busy once the schools break and more people choosing to holiday in the UK. I’m really keen to share our family story to encourage others to just be that extra bit careful on the coast this summer.’

Crosby beach is a two and a half mile wide expanse of sand, mostly backed by promenade, with a one-mile tidal range. Many visitors come to see the popular Antony Gormley sculptures, which can be partially or totally submerged depending on the state of tide.

Crosby is the only RNLI beach to be lifeguarded 365 days a year and is not the only location where tidal cut off is a common occurrence. Local search and rescue agencies continue to see a rise in incidents to people cut off by the tide and stuck in mud and requiring help from the RNLI on Wirral and in the wider Merseyside area

RNLI statistics for the West region which includes the North West, show people enjoying a walk and getting cut off by the tide caused almost 10% of all RNLI lifeboat launches over the last decade - more than double the UK average.

With school children in England breaking up this week and joining those from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland already on their summer holidays, the RNLI and Coastguard are reminding them and their families how to stay as safe as possible when in and around the sea.

RNLI Water Safety Lead Chris Cousens says:

'We see a big increase in the number of incidents involving children and teenagers during the school summer holidays and we would urge everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.

‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

‘We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.’

The key summer safety advice is:

· Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags

· If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about

· Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have launched a new animated children’s tv advert to help reinforce the beach safety message. The advert can be downloaded here: https://source.rnli.org.uk/share/308432B0-D5A7-43D7-B0E9EDB9B653257A/

Notes to editors:

· Interviews available

· In 2020, RNLI lifeguards saved a total of 110 lives, aided 25,172 people - including 1,908 involving bodyboards and 348 with inflatables – responded to 10,687 incidents and made more than 2.2M preventative actions

· 2021 is the 20th anniversary of the RNLI’s lifeguard service

· 1,500 RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling on approximately 245 beaches this summer under contract from local authorities and landowners

· The RNLI also operates 238 lifeboat stations around the coasts of the UK, Ireland and the Channel Islands.

· To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: RNLI.org/GoDonate

For more information, please contact RNLI Regional Media Manager Danielle Rush on 07786 668829 danielle_rush@rnli.org.uk or RNLI National Media Manager Andy Rose on 07976 523794 or email andrew_rose@rnli.org.uk Alternatively, contact the press office on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk


Dad Andrew Smith, RNLI Lifeguard Lead Matt Jessop, Monty Smith and mum Zoe Powell

RNLI/Danielle Rush

Dad Andrew Smith, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor Matt Jessop, Monty Smith and mum Zoe Powell

Callum Robinson

RNLI lifeguards are bracing themselves for another busy summer

David Edwards

RNLI crew and lifeguards are preparing for a summer of staycations

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.

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