RNLI & HM Coastguard launch beach safety campaign as coastal tours set to soar this summer

Ahead of the holiday weekend, the RNLI and HM Coastguard are launching a new safety campaign, urging everyone to choose supervised beaches when visiting the coast. With uncertainty about overseas vacations and international travel lingering, RNLI predicts this summer will be the busiest ever as Covid restrictions are relaxed and people choose to ‘stay on vacation’ .

In a survey commissioned by the RNLI, 75% of those surveyed – aged 16 to 64 – plan to visit a British beach or the coast between April and September, with around half of that number likely to do so three or more times . A significantly higher proportion of the public (36%) also said they planned to visit the coast more than usual this year, compared to 2020 (24%).

Last summer, RNLI lifeguards at 11 beaches in Northern Ireland rescued 71 people and dealt with 225 incidents.

“We expect this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews,” said Gareth Morrison, RNLI Water Safety Manager. “These new figures confirm it.

“We want people to enjoy the coast, but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.

“Our main advice is to visit a supervised beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling 11 Northern Ireland beaches this summer to give advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone in trouble.

“Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to take advantage of the fresh air and open spaces, but they can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, especially in early summer when air temperatures start to heat up but that water temperatures remain dangerously cold, which increases the risk of shock from cold water ”.

The main summer safety tips are:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you have Float to Live issues – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to struggle
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the coast guard

Across the UK last year, RNLI rescuers saved 110 lives, helped 25,172 people – including 1,908 involving bodyboards and 348 with inflatables – responded to 10,687 incidents and carried out more than 2.2 million preventive actions.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: “2020 has been an exceptionally busy year and we expect more people to vacation on our wonderful shores this summer.

“We ask everyone to follow a few simple safety tips, to make the trip memorable for all the right reasons.

“Before you go, take a minute to check the weather, tides and winds to avoid getting caught.

“Leave the inflatables at home because they are designed for the pool, not for open water, where wind and current can take you out to sea very quickly and put you in danger.

“Recreational water sports such as paddleboarding are now incredibly popular and we encourage everyone to make it a fun experience rather than a scary one. It pays to pack and take a cell phone in a waterproof pouch when you go for a paddle meaning you can call for help if needed.

“If you or someone else has problems, always call 999 and ask for the Coast Guard. “

Not everyone who has trouble in the water should even get wet.

“If you’re having trouble in cold water, your natural reaction may be to panic and struggle, which increases your chances of breathing water and drowning. The best thing you can do is float on your back and wait for the effects of the cold water shock to wear off until you can control your breathing. You can then plan your next move to achieve safety, ”RNLI Gareth Morrison added.

For more information on the Beach Safety Campaign, click here

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