RNLI and HM Coastguard offer safety advice ahead of school summer holidays

Lifeguards News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard are reminding families to take care when visiting the coast as new figures reveal that during the school summer holidays* last year, of the 41 lives saved by RNLI lifeguards 39% were children under 13.


Lifeguard at Bournemouth

As schools prepare to break up in England and Wales, RNLI beach lifeguards, are expecting to be extremely busy again during the long summer break.

The RNLI and HM Coastguard are asking those visiting the coast to choose a lifeguarded beach and be aware of some basic advice to keep themselves and their families safe.

Last year RNLI lifeguards aided a total of 11,959 people during the school summer holidays. Of those, children under the age of 13 were the most assisted age group with 4,968 aided and 16 lives saved.

Steve Instance, from the RNLI Water Safety team, said: ‘With an estimated 35M people planning to visit the UK coast this summer**, our lifeguards will be extremely busy during the school summer holidays with younger children, in particular, needing assistance more than any other age group.

‘To stay safe, we’re reminding families to choose a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags which is the safest area as it is constantly monitored by our highly-trained lifeguards.

‘A simple skill we ask everyone of any age to remember is how to Float to live if they find themselves in difficulty in the water. Lean back like a starfish, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. This will allow you to control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. The technique has been proven to save lives.’

Someone who knows this well is 11-year-old Finley Hassall. Having travelled from the Midlands with his family, the schoolboy was on holiday in Cornwall and had been catching some waves on his bodyboard when he heard cries for help from another child.

Finley said: ‘I looked around and saw waves going over this boy’s head and he was splashing and struggling. He was clearly panicking.

‘I’d read in my RNLI Storm Force magazine how to float like a starfish so that’s what I asked him to do.

‘I said I’d done this at my swimming lessons before and it will be fine if he could float on his back.

‘He went onto his back and I was talking to him and trying to get him to take deep breaths to calm him down.

‘An RNLI lifeguard soon arrived to check we were both ok and helped find the family of the boy before heading off to help two other people.’

Throughout the summer months, a children’s RNLI Seaside Safety advert will be broadcast on TV channels with the catchy song reminding those visiting the coast to float like a starfish if they find themselves in difficulty in the water.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard said: ‘We’re urging anyone visiting the coast and taking part in coastal activities to be aware of the dangers so they can have a safe and enjoyable summer.

‘Always check the weather conditions and tide times before heading to the coast as it’s very easy to find yourself quickly cut off by the tide or blown offshore. Whatever activity you choose to do, whether it’s swimming, paddleboarding, walking or anything else near the water, look out for your friends and family to help keep each other safe.

‘Please enjoy the UK’s wonderful beaches and coastline but respect their dangers and remember, in a coastal emergency, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

The RNLI’s key water safety advice for 7-14 year-olds is:

  • Stop and think – Always swim in a safe place.
  • Stay together – Always swim with an adult, younger children and non-swimmers should always be within arm’s reach.
  • Float – If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float on your back like a starfish.
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.


Notes to editors

· Interview with Finley, Tara Patel (Finley’s mother) and RNLI Water Safety team member available on request

· * figures for England and Wales summer holidays – July 23 to Sept 1 2021

· ** April – 30 September. Basis Research, RNLI Water Safety Survey, April 2022. Representative sample of 1,013 UK adults aged 16-64 / 505 Irish adults aged 16-64

· June to August 2021 RNLI lifeguards aided 15,218 people and saved 90 lives

· Storm Force Magazine is for young RNLI supporters. More information can be found here.

· Downloadable soundbite for radio from Ross Macleod, RNLI Water Safety – download here

· Extract of Storm Force Magazine downloadable here

· Kid’s Float to Live tv advert downloadable here RNLI.org/FloatThisSummer

· To learn how to teach your child to Float watch the video here

· To support RNLI lifesavers, please visit RNLI.org/Go Donate

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Dave Riley, RNLI National Media Officer on 07795 015042 or [email protected] or RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Finley Hassall

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.

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