The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard today (Thursday 21 May) launch a new beach safety campaign, urging parents to protect their families by following key safety advice to save lives this summer.
Following the recent easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions in England and with children still off school, many more people are expected to visit the coast to exercise and take part in water-based activities.
Last weekend alone, Coastguard rescue teams were called out 194 times in the UK to incidents including; inflatables drifting offshore, crashed jet skis, people injured while out walking or cycling along the coast, paddleboarders, kayakers, windsurfers and kite surfers in difficulty and people cut off by the tide.
In 2019, RNLI lifeguards aided more than 29,000 people on UK beaches in more than 17,000 incidents, saving a total of 154 lives.
They also helped to reunite nearly 1,800 lost children and teenagers with their families and aided 346 people in incidents involving inflatables.
Despite the ongoing challenges posed by coronavirus and social distancing the RNLI still hopes to provide a lifeguard service on around 30% of the beaches the charity usually covers in time for the traditional peak summer season. But at present, there are no RNLI lifeguards on UK beaches, and we cannot be everywhere this summer.
Whilst RNLI lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard are still on call ready to respond to emergencies, the message is clear; we need the public to be aware of dangers, take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones and remember that, in an emergency, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said: ‘If the charity’s lifeguards were present on the beaches today, they would be preventing many incidents before they even occurred by directing people to safe swimming areas, highlighting dangers such as rip currents and advising people not to use inflatables. These preventive measures are not currently in place meaning people could find themselves in danger if they are not reading the signs and following the relevant safety advice.
He added: ‘Our lifeguards are trained to swim 200m within 3 1/2 minutes, and although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, they won’t be able to reach you in the same time.
‘It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands that the beach can be a dangerous environment and you must take more responsibility for you and your family this summer. No one ever goes to the coast to be rescued yet RNLI lifeguards rescue 1000’s each year.’
Following key safety advice will keep people safe and help to reduce the demands placed on RNLI lifeboat crews, HM Coastguard and other emergency services.
That is why parents are now being urged to take charge and be ‘beach smart’ if they visit the coast to ensure they and their families have the safest summer possible, whether lifeguards are patrolling their beach or not.
Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said: ‘We know from sad experience that whether you’re local or nor, whatever your ability of experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does. Now, more than ever we need people to respect the sea and the coast.
If you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we will come to your aid. But coronavirus hasn’t gone away, and we all need to follow the rules. Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.’
This summer with beach lifeguard patrols significantly reduced the RNLI and HM Coastguard are advising the public not to use inflatables at all and for everyone, especially parents, planning a visit to a beach or the coast to follow this safety advice:
Have a plan - check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
Don’t allow your family to swim alone
Don’t use inflatables
If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard
Roll-out of the normal seasonal lifeguard service was paused at the end of March due to the measures put in place by the UK Government to control the spread of Coronavirus. With changes to the lockdown restrictions allowing the public to visit beaches around the UK and Channel Islands, the RNLI has been looking at plans to resume a lifeguard service where possible.
This needs to be consistent with government guidance, but the plan is for the service to build in time so that lifeguard patrols reach 70 beaches by peak season.
Beaches will be chosen based on risk and popularity. The RNLI will also look to achieve a geographical spread while making sure the service provided is flexible and sustainable enough to respond to what may be an ever-changing environment.
For further information on the campaign visit: rnli.org/beach2020
The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and they continue to launch to those in peril at sea.
To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: rnli.org/donate
RNLI shops, museums and visitor centres remain shut and all community fundraising has stopped.
David Hannah being presented with his certificate by Mark Dowie RNLI CEO (Lt)
The exceptional work carried out by David Hannah as RNLI Regional Appeals Manager for the South West was recognised at a ceremony at the Dart Lifeboat Station on Friday 4 October.
The presentation was made by the Chief Executive of the RNLI, Mark Dowie, before a large gathering of his ex-colleagues and grateful volunteers from the many stations he had guided to complete their appeals for new lifeboats and lifeboat stations.
The Presentation certificate read;
‘The Chairman and Council of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution wish to record their sincere thanks to Colonel David Hannah OBE in recognition of the great success of the regional appeals for Lifeboats and Lifeboat Stations at Padstow, Exmouth, Dartmouth, Jersey, The Lizard and Looe, raising over £6m. It was through David’s direction that each of the appeals generated such support from their local communities that not only built on the already strong volunteer contribution but surpassed all expectations.
David was instrumental in significantly raising local participation through his leadership and dedication, leaving a legacy of great pride in all the stations.
David himself wrote the following for the third issue of Dart D’Tales, published in August 2008, little knowing that, 11 years later, the volunteers at Dart would have launched 413 times and saved 12 lives as well as having an Atlantic 75 B class lifeboat half way through a two year trial to see if she should also be part of RNLI Dart.
‘Our appeal for funds to set up our new Dart lifeboat station has been an enormous success.
Not only have we reached our target of £259,000, we have now exceeded it. At the time of writing our appeal fund stands at £282,212. The establishment of our new station has been made possible through the enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers in Dartmouth, Kingswear and Totnes and the generous donations made by members of the public, businesses, charitable trusts, clubs, event organizers and other organizations.
Through our appeal for funds, they have all answered our call for help. The result is a new RNLI facility for saving lives on the River Dart and in coastal waters and for providing sea safety advice through education, which we hope will serve the community for years to come. We are very grateful for all your support.
Our appeal to meet the set up costs of our new station will close on a highly successful note on 1 September 2008. Any residual funds in the appeal account will be used for the operational maintenance of this station and our volunteer crew. Despite the completion of the appeal we will still need your help to fund the annual running costs of the station, which will be in excess of £30,000 per annum. We will need to maintain the boathouse, service the lifeboat and associated equipment and continue to train our crew, some of whom come from a non-maritime background. On average we spend £1000 each year on every crewmember to ensure their skills through training are of the very highest standard and that they are all equipped to meet any eventuality that they may face in saving lives on the water. So the RNLI’s Dart lifeboat station will continue to need your help in the years to come. Your valuable support and contribution in whatever form it might take will mean that we can go on following our proud tradition of saving lives on the water and providing sea safety education.
David Hannah, RNLI Appeals Manager.
It was a pleasure to welcome David back to Dart and thank him for all his hard work in making the station a reality.
All the past history of RNLI Dart can be found on the station web site under the Dart D'Tales tab at the top of the page.
Further photographs of the event can be seen under the Photo Gallery tab.
The crew held a farewell party for the Spirit of the Dart.