RNLI urges coastal caution during Easter holidays
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is encouraging anyone planning to visit the coast this Easter to know the risks to help protect themselves and their families.
The lifesaving charity begins the rollout of its lifeguard service this weekend on around 50 beaches in the UK and Channel Islands.
But with the school holidays coinciding with a relaxation in lockdown travel and socialising rules in many areas, the RNLI has urged the public to take care if they visit the coast as, despite some recent warm weather, sea temperatures remain at their coldest this time of year.
RNLI Water Safety Manager Sam Johnson said: ‘Although the roll-out of our lifeguard service starts this weekend, they can’t be everywhere, so people need to think about their own safety and what they would do in an emergency.
‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember it can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during spring and early summer when air temperatures may be warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.
‘We are reminding anyone planning to enter the water to take extra care. Basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of getting into difficulty, whatever your activity, and also improve your chance of being found quickly.
‘For activities like kayaking and stand up paddleboarding we’d recommend you carry a means of calling for help, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, and ensure you are wearing the right kit for the water temperature.
‘A wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float in an emergency although wearing an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket is still vital. For open water swimmers and dippers, please also remember to acclimatise slowly and be visible with a brightly coloured hat.’
Not everyone who finds themselves in trouble in the water, expected to be there though.
‘In a normal year, around 150 people lose their lives at the coast and we know that more than half of those never intended to be in the water,’ said Sam Johnson.
‘If you find yourself in trouble in cold water, your natural reaction can be to panic and thrash around, which increases the chances of breathing in water and drowning.
‘The best thing to do in this situation is to float on your back and wait for the effects of cold water shock to pass, keeping your airway clear until you can control your breathing. You can then plan your next move to reach safety.
‘If you or someone else is in trouble, always call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’
The RNLI’s 238 lifeboat stations have remained operational throughout the pandemic and will continue to launch around the clock where there is risk to life.
Sam Johnson added: ‘We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines on what you are able to do and where, to avoid putting unnecessary strain on frontline services.
‘We want people to enjoy the coastline but urge everyone to respect the water and take extra care when visiting the coast.’
The RNLI’s key safety advice is:
- Check weather forecasts, tide times and any local hazard signage to understand local risks
- Take care if walking or running near cliffs – know your route and keep dogs on a lead
- Carry a fully charged phone
- If you get into trouble in the water, FLOAT to live - fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
- In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
To find your nearest lifeguarded beach go to rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches
Notes to editors:
- Interviews are available via phone, Skype, or Microsoft Teams
- In 2020, RNLI lifeguards saved 110 lives, aided 25,172 people and responded to 10,687 incidents
- A video of the latest coastal safety messaging can be downloaded here
- Keep up to date with relevant water safety advice on social media by searching #RespectTheWater
- The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and they continue to launch to those in peril at sea
- To donate to the RNLI go to RNLI.org/GoDonate
For more information, please contact the RNLI press office on 01202 336789 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Local ambassador scheme
If you are a local business near the coast you can help the RNLI share key water safety messages and save lives by becoming a local ambassador. As a local ambassador you can help be the eyes and ears in your community by helping the RNLI share important water safety messages with more people. To find out more visit: rnli.org/support-us/volunteer/volunteering-opportunities/rnli-local-ambassador
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.