Safety pilot launched as figures show North West lifeguards are UK's busiest
Today, the RNLI launches its summer beach safety campaign as statistics show 978,00 people flocked to enjoy the area’s RNLI lifeguarded beaches in 2021. RNLI lifeguards in the North West of England aided more people than anywhere else in the UK – with nearly 18,000 people assisted during the summer.
Ahead of the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and half-term holidays, the RNLI and Her Majesty’s HM Coastguard are launching a water safety campaign, urging everyone to remember that if you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live. 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.
Lifeguards in the North West dealt with 1,550 incidents last summer. With this summer expected to be just as busy, the RNLI is piloting a new QR code initiative to ensure beach visitors stay safe.
Three lifeguard units across the North West - Crosby, New Brighton and West Kirby will be kitted out with new QR codes, which visitors can scan with their mobile phones for the latest safety advice. The code will lead the user to specific advice for that particular beach and a film with a guide to any specific risks at that location. The videos, which are being trialled at selected beaches in Wales and the North West will contain a message from the lifeguard who patrols the beach being visited.
This Saturday, RNLI lifeguards return to their posts on a daily basis at West Kirby, Moreton, Harrison Drive, The Plateaux, New Brighton Perch Rock, Formby, Ainsdale and Southport. A weekend and school holiday service is provided at Formby until patrols start full-time on 2 July, when Leasowe Bay also becomes lifeguarded. The RNLI already provides a 365 days a year service at Crosby.
Ryan Jennings, RNLI Lifeguard Lead Supervisor for the area says lifeguards are looking forward to seeing the reaction to the new project:
‘This really is an innovative project and a fantastic example of how the RNLI is trialling new technology to help us reach key audiences with important interventions. Much of the work done by our lifeguards is preventative work primarily through conversations with beach visitors.
‘We appreciate that some families can feel nervous to approach our lifeguards for advice, or perhaps the lifeguard may be carrying out patrols when they visit the unit. The new QR codes mean they have the necessary safety advice at their fingertips. We are confident this will help us to save even more lives and hope people will take advantage of this new means of receiving key information.’
Nationally, there were 277 deaths in the UK from accidental drownings in 2021, across inland and coastal locations, an increase of 23 from the previous year. 40% of people had no intention to enter the water, such as those walking, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves. Despite rising air temperatures, the sea temperature remains dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock, particularly for people not intending to be in the water.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for the North West says:
‘We are expecting the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and the half-term holidays to be incredibly busy at the coast. We want everyone to enjoy their trip but we also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.
‘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.
For further information on the water safety campaign visit: RNLI.org/FloatWales2022
A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found here: rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches
RNLI media contacts
For more information, please contact Danielle Rush, RNLI Media Relations Manager in Wales and the North West on 07886 668829. Alternatively, please call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336 789 or email [email protected].
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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