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RNLI releases vital safety warning ahead of heatwave

Lifeguards News Release

The Met Office is forecasting a heatwave this week, with temperatures due to hit the mid-30s in some parts of the country.

Bournemouth beach during the summer months

RNLI/Becky Cheers

Bournemouth beach during the summer months

As the warm weather approaches, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is reminding people to stay safe at the coast this summer, which is predicted to be even busier than last year.

A new study commissioned by the RNLI, reveals that 35M[1] people plan to visit the UK coast this summer. 85% of the UK adult population (aged 16-64) expect to visit the UK coast or use the beach or sea between now and the end of September, this is up from 75% this time last year. 42% expect to go three times or more[2].

The RNLI, with the support of HM Coastguard, is urging everyone to remember to Float to Live if they get into trouble in the water. To do this: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the Coastguard.

Gabbi Batchelor, Water Safety Education Manager at the RNLI said: ‘With summer arriving and a heatwave forecast, we want to remind everyone to stay safe at the coast.

‘It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risks of the environment. It can be very unpredictable, particularly during early summer when the risk of cold water shock significantly increases, as air temperatures warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold.

‘If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the Coastguard.’

The RNLI is also reminding people to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags this summer.

Gabbi adds: ‘With hot weather forecast, we know lots of people will be heading to the coast. To help stay safe, we’d encourage people to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. It’s important to remember to swim between those flags because lifeguards put them on the safest stretch of water and patrol this area.’

Using the Float to Live technique helped save the lives of Dave Henderson, 52, from Ilminster and Brian Harding, 73, from Chard. They were on a fishing trip on the River Axe, near Axmouth, when they got into trouble in the water.

They had been out on the boat for some time, it was a sunny, calm evening and they were heading back to shore. Suddenly, a freak wave hit their boat and it capsized, flinging them into the water just as it was getting dark. Once in the water, Dave, who has a heart condition, could feel the current from the river taking him out to sea. He knew he couldn’t swim long enough or hard enough to make it back to shore.

He recalled seeing an RNLI poster in his local yacht club which explained that if you get into difficulty in the water, you should Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. Using this advice, he lay on his back and floated whilst he waited for help to arrive. Brian also used this technique and they both floated whilst they waited for help to arrive from the RNLI Lyme Region Lifeboat Station. Interviews are available with the case studies, along with quotes and footage from the rescue.

For further information on the water safety campaign visit: RNLI.org/FloatUK2022

A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found here: rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches

Ends

Notes to Editors

· Content available here: https://source.rnli.org.uk/share/CC338893-820A-4DE8-BC96E5A52F9BFF6C/

· Case study, Dave Henderson, is available for interviews

· Gabbi Batchelor, Water Safety Education Manager at the RNLI is available for interviews

· Interviews available with lifeguards across the UK

Float to Live demos can be arranged on request

[1] Office for National Statistics: 2021 UK population aged 16-64: 41.2M

[2] Basis Research, RNLI Water Safety Survey, April 2022. Representative sample of 1,013 UK adults aged 16-64 / 505 Irish adults age 16-64

RNLI Lifeguards at Widemouth Bay

RNLI/Becky Cheers

RNLI Lifeguards at Widemouth Bay

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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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.