Carrying a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case can most of the time be sufficient on inland coastal activity

Whatever coastal activity or water sport that you are taking part in it is vitally important to carry a means of calling for help incase you or one of your party gets into difficulty.   This includes going for a walk with your lovely doggie or friends/family along the great coastline.   Everything including sailing off-shore, kackaying, climbing, diving, swimming or motor boating to name a few.  The ability to call for help quickly and get rescue services to you or the person/animal in difficulty can be the difference between living or dying.

If you do find yourself in difficulty, hear or see someone else or an animal in difficulty in the water or at the coast call ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard.  If you are inland at a river, loch, canal, reservoir or lake then ring ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Fire Service again straight away.

To assist you with some of the calling for help devices which are available we have included anumber below (Image credit: RNLI)

The RNLI advises :

  • Smart phones can provide a location, but emergency calls should be made by voice (call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard). Text messages and map locations are often no use to the Coastguard.
  • Even if your phone shows no service, try calling 999 or 112 anyway as in an emergency your phone will be able to use another phone network. Please note that with some devices, repeatedly pressing the power button can activate an emergency call with your location.
  • The RYA SafeTrx ap is available to download for free for use in notifying a specified contact if you are overdue from your trip. The Coastguard can also monitor and be kept informed.

 

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

These have recently come right down in price and retail at around £175.00.  They are now being used by all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts including walkers, climbers and mountain bikers.  The PLB needs to be registered to you (shouldn’t be loaned to friends), they will operate world-wide and you can rely on the Coastguard on picking up the signal immediately and your GPS location given to lifeboat and coastguard teams.   The PLB needs to be activated so the casualty will need to be conscious with the aerial pointing out of the water. One of our team carries one on his lifejacket permanently.

The VHF handheld VHF radio’s are now reasonable priced and available widely

The RNLI makes these points with regards VHF radio’s:

  • If possible, buy a DSC-equipped radio (some are not). A DSC distress alert is a recognised emergency signal, and it also transmits your location.
  • Send a distress alert followed by a mayday voice call on Channel 16. This communicates the distress message to all vessels and shore stations in range.
  • Requires an operator’s licence, a ship’s portable radio or ship’s radio licence (free in the UK if requested online) and a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, which comes with the radio licence.

More useful links

How to call for help at Sea – RNLI

How to call the Coastgaurd

How to register or update your PLB or other UK 406MHZ beacon device

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

HM Coastguard

Canoeing Safely – Canals and Rivers Trust

Kayacking and Canoeing Safety – RNLI


Andy Mills

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Striving to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2024 by spreading key safety messages to Thanet communities and its visitors.