Sustainable lifesaving equipment

Drowning overwhelmingly affects countries with the fewest resources to prevent it. Many organisations struggle because they don’t have the rescue equipment they need.

We’re working with students, designers, manufacturers and lifesaving organisations worldwide to develop rescue kit that can be made and used where resources are scarce.

Plastic bottle buoy

Photo: RNLI/Darren Williams

The innovative bottle buoy is easy to create from discarded plastic drink bottles.

The difference we’re making

This intervention looks at low-cost, sustainable rescue equipment that can be produced at a community, regional and global level. We’re encouraging schools, universities and lifesaving professionals to get involved, by providing project briefs and development support.

Rescue throwlines

Throwlines are a vital piece of rescue equipment, keeping the user from entering the water and putting themselves at risk during a rescue.

Flood rescue

RNLI-trained flood rescuers in Bangladesh need good quality throwlines. Current options are too expensive (about £30 each) so we’re designing a version that can be produced locally at a fraction of the cost.

Community use

We worked with The Little Sewing Company to create an instruction manual for local tailors, guiding them to produce a low-cost rescue throwline for their community. The lines can be stored by open water, ready to be used by anyone in an emergency.

Rescue board

SeaSafe Lifeguard Md. Alamgir has been making his own surf boards for some time, and recently turned his hand to creating rescue boards to help the service keep costs down. Now he’s helping us write a manual for making lifeguard rescue boards, using locally available materials.

Lifeguard Alamgir with a rescue board he made from recycled materials

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates

SeaSafe Lifeguard Alamgir with one of the rescue boards he made from recycled materials.

Casualty recovery

Bournemouth University student Michael Davies worked on an RNLI brief to design a device to recover a person from the water onto a fishing boat. Tanzania Sea Rescue are testing the device, which has also been on show at the UK New Designers exhibition.

Tanzania Sea Rescue testing a casualty recovery device on the side of a boat at sea

Photo: RNLI

Tanzania Sea Rescue helping to test a casualty recovery device.

Bottle buoy

An ingenious device, invented by James Benson and developed by the RNLI and Bournemouth University. The simple-to-produce wooden centrepiece holds 2-litre drinks bottles and gives the same buoyancy as a plastic life ring. We’re testing the buoy in coastal communities both at home and in Bangladesh. The bottle buoy recently won an IMRF Hero award for technology.

Our international vision is of a world in which no-one should drown. Could you help us towards this vision?

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