Donate now

RNLI issues safety warning as lifeguards attended 10,826* incidents last year

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI is calling for families to stay safe at the coast as new figures show the charity’s lifeguards saved 55 lives last summer* including eight in the combined North and East regions.

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Lincolnshire Lifeguards on training

Today (25/07/2023) marks the third World Drowning Prevention Day and with school children across the UK enjoying the first week of their summer holidays already, the RNLI is reminding people how to stay safe while enjoying at the coast.

Sadly, days out can turn to tragedy with RNLI lifeguards aiding 1,563 people last summer – including 802 children and 245 teenagers - during 1,373 incidents attended in the North and East region.

The beach is a fantastic place to be – but there can be hidden dangers too. If you are heading to the seaside, discover the RNLI's top five tips to help you and your family stay safe.

The key summer safety advice to remember is:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live; tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat and then call for help or swim to safety if you can.
  • Call 999 or 112 in a coastal emergency and ask for the Coastguard

If you find yourself struggling in the water, or if you fall in unexpectedly, Float to Live. Relax and try to breathe normally. Tilt your head back and submerge your ears. Use your hands to help you stay afloat. Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety.

Nick Ayers, water safety expert, said: ‘Now the weather is warming up we expect to see a big increase in visitors to UK coastlines and unfortunately this does mean there is likely to be an increase in the number of incidents in the sea.

‘Many of the incidents our lifeguards attend during the school holidays involve children and teenagers and we would urge everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.

‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

‘We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to think about their own safety, take time to familiarise yourself with our advice and to share this with your friends and family.’

Local area statistics (2022)

In the East England area in there were 665 reported incidents (up from 423 in 2011), resulting in 712 people being aided. Of these incidents, 42 persons required casualty care and six lives were saved. Of those aided, the majority were children (354) with 117 teenagers and 213 adults (28 unknown). In East England area, there were a reported 539,862 visitors to the area, for which RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews provide a safe beach environment for visitors to enjoy.

National statistics (2022)

There were 226 deaths in the UK from accidental drownings in 2022, across inland and coastal locations. 41 of these were in July and 44 in August – more than twice the number than in any other month. Of the people who died 40 per cent had no intention of entering the water.*

The third World Drowning Prevention Day follows a UN resolution on drowning prevention, acknowledging the issue for the first time in its 75-year history.

The RNLI played an important role in the adoption of the UN resolution, working alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO), and national governments of Ireland and Bangladesh to put a focus on drowning prevention.

Notes to editors
  • Lifeguard stats are from July 25-September 2
  • Drownings stat is from the WAID Water Incident Database (WAID), maintained by the National Water Safety Forum. To view and download the WAID 2022 report visit: https://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid
  • Video and images are available to download from: RNLI Media Library
RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact:

Brad Johnson, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for lifeboat station RNLI on [email protected]

RNLI Press Office: [email protected]

Ted O'Neill / Reach Plc

Lifeguards and Lifeboat Crew on Skegness beach

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Lifeguards on Skegness beach in 2022

RNLI/Brad Johnson

Lifeguard on training

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.