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Wirral children taught RNLI ‘float to live’ skills ahead of summer holidays

Lifeboats News Release

Hundreds of Wirral children have learned vital water safety skills ahead of the school summer holidays as Hoylake RNLI partnered once again with the Helen Diamond Swimming School to mark Drowning Prevention Week 2023.

Helen Diamond Swimming School

Hundreds of young swimmers on the Wirral were taught the RNLI’s lifesaving ‘float to live’ skills as part of regular swimming lessons

RNLI water safety volunteers spoke to young swimmers at 39 sessions throughout Drowning Prevention Week (17–24 June) as part of their regular swimming lessons. The special sessions saw students swimming in pyjamas to prepare them for the sensation of falling unexpectedly into water and included dedicated time to practising the lifesaving ‘float to live’ technique, as well as how to call for help.

Parents and guardians on the poolside also learned important ways to keep their families safe by the coast this summer, such as visiting lifeguarded beaches and understanding the effects of cold water shock. The sessions reached over 1,000 people at Calday Grange Swimming Pool and Birkenhead High School Academy.

The RNLI’s mascot Stormy Stan was on duty to cheer on the young swimmers and to promote the charity’s lifesaving messages. Through generous donations, Hoylake RNLI volunteers were also able to raise £237.60 to help its crews save lives at sea.

Helen Diamond said: ‘Thank you to the team at Hoylake RNLI for an amazing week supporting our swim school in raising awareness around water safety ahead of the summer. We know all too well the dangers. It’s so important to understand why we learn to swim, how to be safe, and to show adults that sitting on a poolside for years watching swimming lessons can also literally help save a life. I always compare it to learning to read and write, it’s a skill we all need.’

Helen added: ‘Each year during Drowning Prevention Week, we aim to raise awareness and do so to an ever-increasing audience. Having the support of Stormy Stan this year was a huge hit with not only the children but also our staff. Our team of over 50 staff really enjoy seeing their students put into practice the skills they’re taught every week with the added challenge of swimming in their clothes. Even having little beginners in clothes is fabulous. I’ve been teaching swimming for nearly 30 years and feel so passionate about swimming and water safety.’

Dave Bates, Hoylake RNLI Water Safety Adviser, said: ‘I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak to swimmers and parents again this year. Hopefully the skills and messages they’ve learned will never be needed, but if the worst should happen then these children and their parents know what to do - not only if they find themselves out of their depth or entering cold water unexpectedly, but also how to pass the message on if they see others in difficulty too. Float!’

Dave added: ‘Living on a coastal peninsula, and with so many people being drawn to the water over the summer, these lessons are essential. These children are already learning to swim, but now they know what to do in an emergency.’

The RNLI and Helen Diamond Swimming School ‘float to live’ sessions are planned to return in the summer of 2024 at swimming pools across the Wirral.

Notes to editors

Hoylake RNLI’s partnership with the Helen Diamond Swimming School began in summer 2020 following a number of tragic drownings across the North West.

Recent figures show that there were 22 deaths in North West England from accidental drowning in 2022 across inland and coastal locations. Overall in the UK, the figure was 226. Of the people who died across the UK, 40 per cent had no intention of entering the water, such as those walking, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves.

Recent research indicates a third of UK people don’t know what to do if they get into difficulty in the water.

When in cold water (anything below 15°C), the human body can go into cold water shock. If this happens, people can lose control of their breathing and movement. Cold water shock also causes the heart rate and blood pressure to quickly increase, which can lead to cardiac arrest.

The average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland is just 12°C. Inland waters like lakes, rivers, lochs and reservoirs can be colder – even in the summer. If you get into difficulty in the water, float to live:

1. Fight the urge to thrash around

2. Lean back and extend your arms and legs

3. Gently move them around to help you float if you need to

4. Float until you can control your breathing

5. Only then, call for help or swim to safety

In an emergency at the coast, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Dan Whiteley, Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer on 07799 851 316 or email [email protected]

Helen Diamond Swimming School

RNLI mascot Stormy Stan joined the ‘float to live’ sessions to cheer on the young swimmers

Helen Diamond Swimming School

Both children and their parents and guardians learned about staying safe at the coast this summer

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.