RNLI release paddleboard, kayak and canoe rescue statistics

Lifeboats News Release

New figures released by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) reveal that the charity saved the lives of 42 people last year after they got into trouble while paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing.

Aerial shot of paddleboards on a beach forming the number 59 to illustrate the number of lives saved in the last 10 years by the RNLI

Nigel Sharman Photography

The RNLI saved the lives of 59 paddleboarders in the last 10 years
The figures also show that:
  • The RNLI saved the lives of 59 paddleboarders in the last 10 years with 75% (44) of those coming since 2020
  • Lifeboat launches to paddleboard incidents went up 64% in 2021 (144) from the previous year (88) while RNLI lifeguards responded to 132% more paddleboard incidents in 2021 (504) than the previous year (217)
  • In the 10 years from 2012-2021, the RNLI has saved the lives of 300 paddleboarders, kayakers or canoers and helped 6,361 people
Samantha Hughes of the RNLI’s Water Safety team said: 'Paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing are all extremely popular, especially during the summer months, and the RNLI has seen a large increase in our lifeboats and beach lifeguards going to the aid of people involved in these kinds of activities over the past few years.

'That’s why it’s important to be aware of some simple safety advice which could save your life. If you are heading out on the water, we would always advise you to wear a suitable personal flotation device for your activity. If you are on a paddleboard, choose the right releasable leash for the location you are paddling.

'Always check the weather forecast and tide times as this can affect your paddling and always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

'Keep a means of calling for help attached to you in a waterproof pouch or close to hand so that in an emergency you can call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if at the coast or the Fire Service if inland.

'If you get into trouble in the water, remember to Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.'

RNLI strategic partner Helly Hansen has also released its own research into the wearing of personal flotation devices (PFD) and lifejackets which reveal that many people are not taking safety precautions while participating in stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking and canoeing.

Paddleboarding, in particular, has seen a massive increase in popularity over the past few years due to the accessibility of the activity. But the results from the survey* commissioned by Helly Hansen reveal many people may be putting themselves at risk.

When asked what they saw as essential pieces of kit for paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing, 6 out of 10 of those surveyed (62%) did not include a personal floatation device (PFD) or lifejacket.

When asked why they chose not to wear one, the most common answer from almost a third of respondents (31.8%) was being a confident swimmer. The next most popular reasons for not wearing a PFD were not owning one (24.5%) and a dislike of wearing one (21.8%). 30% of respondents also said they would not change their plans on the water after looking at the weather forecast.

Emma Russell, Marketing Manager for Helly Hansen in the UK, Ireland, and Benelux, said: 'The results highlight a persistent issue in the UK, that those taking part in water-based activities such as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing do not feel the need to wear a PFD during their time on the water. No matter the activity or competency level, everyone should see PFDs as an essential piece of kit that should always be worn.'

Helly Hansen and the RNLI have been strategic partners since 2018 and are committed to working together to educate and influence those at risk of drowning.
Notes to editors:
  • For more interviews or further information on the RNLI's safety tips and rescue statistics, please contact the RNLI press office on 01202 336789 or [email protected]
  • For more information on the Helly Hansen survey, samples and hi-res images please contact the team via [email protected].
  • *2,000 people from the UK were surveyed in June 2022 via Census wide
About Helly Hansen

Founded in Norway in 1877, Helly Hansen continues to develop professional-grade apparel that helps people stay and feel alive. Through insights drawn from living and working in the world’s harshest environments, the company has developed a long list of first-to-market innovations, including the first supple waterproof fabrics more than 140 years ago. Other breakthroughs include the first fleece fabrics in the 1960s, the first technical base layers in the 1970s, made with Lifa® Stay Dry Technology, and today’s award-winning and patented H2Flow™ temperature regulating system.

Helly Hansen is a leader in technical sailing and performance ski apparel, as well as premium workwear. Its uniforms are worn and trusted by more than 55,000 professionals and can be found on Olympians, National Teams, and at more than 200 ski resorts and mountain guiding operations around the world.

Helly Hansen’s outerwear, base layers, sportswear, and footwear are sold in more than 40 countries and trusted by outdoor professionals and enthusiasts around the world. To learn more about Helly Hansen’s latest collections, visit www.hellyhansen.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.