Thanet RNLI Community Safety

It’s all about pagers!

The Umbirical Cord

I promised last week after a conversation with one of the Margate Yacht Club members to write a blog about RNLI pagers.  Well, as you can see from the photograph below, here it is.  The pager is what some RNLI crew call their umbilical cord, basically attached to you wherever you go or whatever you are doing. If you go to bed, it’s on the bedside table next to your clothes and car keys which are ready to go incase you get a shout in the middle of the night!

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So, how does the pager work?  If you are old enough like me, you may remember pagers that you could hire or buy so that friends, work colleagues or relatives to get hold of you even if you weren’t near a phone.  Basically, a very small electronic receiver encased in a plastic box which will receive a electronic signal that will convert into an audible tone and or visual message. Before the pager was introduced the lifeboat crews were alerted via maroons and a phone call from the Coxswain during the night time period.

Who sets the pagers off?

The UK Coastguard will receive an emergency call via the ‘999’ system from a member of the public indicating that someone or an animal is in the sea and needs assistance. The call could also originate from someone out at sea who has called ‘Mayday’ on their VHF radio channel 16 who is in trouble or has observed someone else in need of help. The Coastguard will then send a ‘launch request’ to the appropriate RNLI station.  The RNLI station Launch Authority will then call the Coastguard asking for details.  The launch authority will decide what happens eg ‘launch all boats’, ‘launch inshore boat’,launch all-weather boat’ or ‘launch none’.  The Coastguard will then page the appropriate lifeboat crew, who will make their way to the station as quickly as possible and kit up on arrival. The lifeboat crew will be selected and will receive a briefing from the Coxswain/helmsmen/hovercraft commander.  The boat(s) will then be launched with the assistance of the shore crew.

So, that’s a very brief overview of what happens, of course the process can vary depending on location.


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Emergency VHF radio calling  procedure

Read this really great article from the RNLI on-line magazine on the 11 memorable pager moments, I’m sure you will enjoy it!

You can download your own pager for your desk top or receive alerts via text message when your favourite lifeboat station is paged for launch.

If you want to know what the RNLI pagers sound like when they go-off have a look at this video. Be warned, this carries a health warning- if you are RNLI crew then it may make you jump!!

More information on what to do when someone needs help at sea check out the video below from the UK Coastguard:

Saturday morning beach clean, tyres & cups of tea
The absolutely fantastic Joss Bay Beach – pretty clean or so we thought!

On Saturday morning I found myself over at Joss Bay, helping out with the Broadstairs Town Team beach clean. Although, the sun was out and beautiful blue skies were shaping up nicely, the very harsh and bitterly cold wind, which had been widely forecast was blowing across Joss BayJoss Bay is arguably one of Thanet’s finest beaches, home to the fantastic Surf School and very popular during the Summer months.  Broadstairs Town Team, similar to a growing number of commmunity groups, carry out awesome work, helping to improve the local environment making it a better place to live, work and visit. If you haven’t already have a quick look at what they are up to.

Beach cleans – what happens?

Just incase you haven’t ventured out onto a beach clean before. They comprise of a short health and safety briefing, issue of kit essential to the task eg bags, rubbish grabber, gloves, high viz jacket and then it’s down to you to crack on.

What we found

Hunting for litter – just some of the things we found!

Any old tyres?

Surprisingly, despite the beach and car park looking pretty clean (so, we thought), the above illustrates the amount of rubbish etc that we managed to collect, including the old tyre and plenty of old rope.  Incase you weren’t aware of how long a plastic bag takes to degrade here is an interesting link.

Delivering Coastal safety messages to beach clean volunteers

It was also great to speak with the beach clean volunteers about some of the RNLI’s key safety messages, including ‘float not swim’, ‘Respect the Water‘ and tidal safety considerations.

After securing all the litter that we had collected in one place, it was time to head for home for a well deserved cup of tea. Hope to see you again soon.  Thank you

My top 5 reasons why its good to get involved in a beach clean:

  1.   Grab some free exercise (you can even bring your doggie along out of the peak season)
  2.   Extend your social circle by meeting new people
  3.   Contribute to helping the local community and environment look and feel better
  4.   Be part of something on your door step that globally helps to protect and conserve the marine environment and its species
  5.   It’s free to attend and is a quick and easy way to volunteer your time for a very good cause

Don’t forget you can get involved in future beach cleans by checking out the Broadstairs Town Team Facebook page. The Great British Beach Clean is happening on the 3rd weekend of September. Check their website on how you can take part.

The Thanet Coast Project has a whole host of interesting events taking place this year, why not have a look at what’s on?

Find out more information about how you can become a Big Spring Beach Clean Leader 

Big Spring Beach Clean April 2018

Other useful websites: Surfers Against Sewage, Marine Conservation Society, RNLI beach safety 

Walpole Bay Bathing Group

Anglers & lifejackets

I was saddened, to hear over the weekend of the death of the angler who had been out fishing off rocks, as part of a group, at Barras Nose, Tintagel. Pirate FM reported that the gentlemen had been in the sea for 40 minutes before he was rescued by the Port Issac RNLI crew and taken to Derriford hospital where unfortunately he could not be saved.  My heartfell condolescences to the man’s family and friends. Absolutely, devastating for all those rescue crews involved too. The full report from Pirate FM is available here.

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The scene at Barras Nose, Tintagel: Pam Brophy

As the CoastSafe campaign led by Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted at the time: anglers need to change their mindset and start wearing personal floation devices (lifejackets) all the time when they are fishing. This is regardless of whether they are fishing out at sea from a boat or off the rocks.  The lifejacket poem below, which I am sure you will agree is absolutely spot on with the key message “Please Put Me On”.

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Lifejacket poem

The video below is made by the RNLI featuring Colm Plunkett, who incidentally is now an RNLI Community Safety Volunteer. It is a really powerful video which hits home the lifejacket message and the need to have a plan. The RNLI display stand at the recent ‘Ireland Angling exhibition’, carried the slogan ‘Expect The Unexpected’ – it’s definitely worth seriously considering!

Grab these 6 top tips for Shore Anglers to stay safe:

  1.   Never turn your back on the sea
  2.   Wear a lifejacket
  3.   Wear appropriate clothing & footwear
  4.   Check the weather, tides aand sea state
  5.   Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
  6.   Carry an appropriate means of calling for help

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Plus, 6 top tips for boat Anglers to stay safe:

  1.    Wear a lifejacket
  2.    Check the weather, tides and sea state
  3.    Tell someone where you are going
  4.    Carry an appropriate means of calling for help – VHF radio, handheld flare
  5.    Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
  6.    Keep your boats, engines and equipment well maintained.

Whichever angling you like to get involved in, please heed the safety advice. Thank you for reading my blog.  More advice on how to stay safe whilst angling can be found here.

Full acknowledgements to Pirate FM, RNLI, Colm Plunkett, CoastSafe Campaign & Pam Brothy.

Margate Yacht Club chat
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Margate Yacht Club members

On Friday evening I popped across to one of our lovely neighbour’s, Margate Yacht Club.  I had been invited over by the Commodore, Sue to give a talk on some of the RNLI’s key safety messages.  I was immediately impressed by the enthusiasm and level of commitment of club members, two of whom had recently passed the massively gruelling RYA Powerboat Instructor course. Top work guys! I was also impressed by the club’s attitude to safety out on the water.

During the evening I covered anumber of topic’s including:  ‘calling for help’ devices, lifejacket safety checks,float not swim‘ – techniques you should use if you find yourself in the water unexpectedly; and RNLI launch and recovery. As I was carrying my RNLI pager, anumber of the audience were interested in the procedure when the UK Coastguard requests the services of an RNLI crew for a launch.  This will be the subject of another blog post in the near future.

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Calling for help devices on display

The top 5 ‘calling for help’ devices (some are featured in the photograph above) I covered are detailed below:

PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)

EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon)

AIS device (Automatic Identification System)

VHF/DSC – VHF radio & Digital Selective Calling

FlaresStill recommended by the MCA and the RNLI as one of the preferred calling for help devices compared with the electronic visual distress signals (EVDS) at this time.

One of the questions that was posed during the Q & A session concerned the lifespan of a foam-filled lifejacket and buoyancy aids.  The RNLI goodbook indicates that as with inflatible lifejackets, many manufacturers recommend the lifespan of a foam-filled PFD is no more than 10 years. Visual inspection is recommended.  Damage to the PFD – eg squashed foam, tears, abrasions, cuts in the cloth and webbing, colour change or damage to the buckles – that would affect the operation of the device can lead to life-threatening reduction in safety offered by the product. They should be repaired or removed from service.

Thank you to the Commodore and the club members for hosting me and listening to the chat. Hope to see you all again soon.

Couple of events to look out for involving Margate Yacht Club :

Push the Boat Out (where you can get out on the water to try sailing and windsailing for free) is taking place during the month of May. Keep up-to-date on what’s on locally by visiting the Push the Boat Out website

Man of Kent Festival  being hosted by Margate Yacht Club Saturday 9th June.  For more details keep checking the Margate Yacht Club website.

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Key safety message literature on display to yacht Club members
Half-term fun & dogs!
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Lovely Thanet beaches

On Monday afternoon I ventured out into the beautiful half-term sunshine (did someone say sunshine?) onto Kingsgate and Botany Bay to deliver safety messages to dog walkers and other coastal users.  We are particularly lucky in Thanet to have a multitude of great beaches. This was particularly important as the seaside naturally sees an influx of visitors during half-term and that two people had been rescued a week previously by the Margate Inshore Lifeboat after being cut-off by the tide on Kinsgate Bay.

During the session I met with some great doggie’s, dog walkers and other coastal users; handing out free doggie treats and advice leaflets.  The key safety messages that I spoke about were: 1) check the weather and tide times before you head out; 2) take a means of calling for help with you; 3) don’t enter the water if you see someone or an animal in trouble, instead call the Coastguard via the ‘999’ emrgency system. 4) if you do enter the water unexpectedly, fight the urge to swim, ‘float not swim’. 5) cold water shock.

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An assortment of leaflets handed out to dog walkers and coastal users

From time-to-time we run dog walker & coastal user engagement events on Thanet beaches, if you see us out and about pop over and say hello.

For more information on RNLI safety advice check out their great website

Find out about Thanet’s great beaches and attractions by following Visit Thanet

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Doggie’s eagerly awaiting their free doggie treats
Cut off by the tide at Kingsgate Bay Broadstairs

Saturday (3rd February 2017), whilst the majority of Margate’s residents were sat down for lunch, out with their families, or contemplating a packed weekend of sport in front of the TV. The little grey box attached to the town’s RNLI crews trouser belts (electronic pager) sounded summoning them urgently to launch their inshore boat. The launch was at the request of the UK Coastguard to persons cut off by the tide at Kingsgate Bay.

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Three crew assembled at the station, one of whom was one of the station’s highly trained helmsmen (who commands the boat). Inaddition to the boat crew, three further crew were required to act as tractor driver and two launchers.

On this occasion the crew quickly launched and successfully carried out the rescue of two persons. A link to the Margate Lifeboat Press Officers report is included here.

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Please spread our ‘staying safe top tips’  for visiting the coast amongst your family, friends and work colleages 1). Check and double check the tides and weather forecast;  2). Tell someone where you are going and when you are going to return; 3). Take a fully charged mobile phone pr other ‘calling for help’ device with you and have it to close at hand to use in a waterproof case 4) Wear the correct kit for the activity. 5) If you see someone or an animal in difficulty in the sea dial ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard  For further advice check out the RNLI’s website.

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Kingsgate Bay – One of Thanet’s tidal cut-off hotspots
Meeting with new Ramsgate Lifeboat Press Officer – Karen Cox

On Friday I enjoyed a visit over to Ramsgate RNLI station to meet with the new Lifeboat Press Officer, Karen Cox.  As I have been in post for only 8 months, it was great to meet with Karen to exchange ideas, contacts and discuss how to spread the ‘Respect the Water’ message across our specialisms.  You can follow Ramsgate RNLI via twitter, facebook or through their excellent website

Thanks Karen for your time.

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