Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Have you downloaded the ‘What3Words’ app yet? It could help you in an emergency..

Have you heard of ‘What 3 Words‘?  You may have already downloaded the app? Emergency Service personnel around the country are raving about how important and vital this app is.

But, what exactly is it?  Using three-word addresses it gives callers a simplified method to describe exactly where assistance is required and allows emergency services to despatch their asset (fire appliance, ambulance, Coastguard, Search and Rescue team, police vehicle etc) straight to the scene of the incident.  Wasting valuable time trying to locate a person who is in urgent need of help could result in literally life or death.

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Photo credit: What2Words

What3words‘ is a British company who have divided the globe into three metres by three metre squares and given each square a unique three word address for example – ///prove.bids.deny, will take you to  Ramsgate Lifeboat Station.

 

The app is free to download for Apple and Android or by browser and works offline.  Hence making it ideal for use in rural or remote areas and where there is inconsistent data coverage. The three word format is also available worldwide and in twenty six different languages.

You may argue that the UK is already covered by the postcode system and street names are prominent in the majority of areas.  However, some postcodes cover a wide area and the same street name may crop up several times in one town or city.

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Emergency Service call handlers can send people who ring them an SMS message that contains a link to the what3words map, where they can see their location and immediately read the corresponding three-word address.   BT, EE and Plus Net mobile customers can find their what3words address without using any of their data via a link the emergency call handler will send them during the call.

It has recently been adopted by the British Transport Police, Police Forces in Avon and Somerset, Humberside and West Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Services.

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What 3 Words can be effective for emergency calls in sparseley populated locations such as at the beach, coastal areas, moors or farmland where it can be very challenging to communicate a location without any address or points of reference nearby.

One Fire Service call handler told us that she quite often has callers in a rural area describe their location by the colour of farm gates or the name of the farmer believing that they were speaking with the nearest fire station.

This new innovative location technology will help get help quickly to the correct location.  Another example was the app was used to locate a group of walkers who got lost in a dense wood in County Durham during August.

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words, said: “Being in need of urgent help and not being able to easily describe where you are can be very distressing for the person involved and a really difficult situation for emergency services.  “Today, people nearly always have their phone on them.  We need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services and potentially save lives.”

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The app has also been adopted by groups and individuals to map treasure hunts and meeting places.  As well as the serious nature of the app it can be good fun too. For example the front door to Downing Street is //slurs.this.shark

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Save locations that you regularly walk or run

Why not find out the ‘what3words’ of nearby location’s where you go for a walk or run so you can save their locations in case you need them in the future.

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National Maritime Operation Centre (NMOC) HM Coastguard

Emergencies at the coast?

Coastguard Operation Rooms across the UK can access ‘What 3 Words’ as part of a suite of tools to locate those in distress. There isn’t always mobile phone coverage at sea, so carry a VHF radio or Personal Locator Beacon as well to call for help.  The RNLI Operations Room at their headquarters in Poole have said….. “What3Words is a brilliant tool which can save lives particularly in area’s such as beaches where reference points are hard to find.  We would always encourage use of established systems and would hope casualty reports are given using map/chart references whenever possible”….

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What3Words logo

Can you find these locations using the App?

//action.mile.paper

///token.crowned.await

///cape.admits.slim

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Kent Fire and Rescue Appliance

Useful links

Three-unique words ‘map’ used to rescue mother and child – BBC

Download the Apple What3Words App

Download the Android What3Words App

BTP Lancashire successfully use What 3 Words App to locate vulnerable person

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RNLI Flood Rescue vehicle pictured alongside the Margate All Weather Lifeboat photo credit: A Mills

Acknowledgements

What3Words

Greenock Coastguard Team

National Fire Chief’s Council

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service

HM Coastguard

Kent Search and Rescue (KSAR)

How Do I Call For Help By Phone At The Coast?

Our Coastguard colleagues have in the past carried out a public survey and they report that half of the people they questioned did not know that they should dial ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard for a coastal emergency.  Here are just some of the incidents which the Coastguard should get called to (The list is not exhaustive):

▪️Person in the water

▪️Someone shouting/waving for help from a boat,

▪️Someone stuck on/fallen from a Coastal cliff,

▪️Someone stuck in Coastal mud or quicksand,

▪️Boat sinking or on fire

▪️Persons floating out to sea on a lilo

▪️Distress flare sighted

▪️Persons jumping from quay walls and putting themselves in danger

▪️Persons “Wave Dodging” and putting themselves in danger

▪️Someone gone kayaking at the Coast and not back at the time they said they would be

▪️Boat aground

▪️Someone injured on a beach

▪️Someone cut off by the tide

▪️Child(ren) lost on the beach

▪️Marine Pyrotechnics (flares) or suspected Military Ordnance found on a beach

Coastguard RNLI ThanetRNLICommunitysafety NMOC

Here is the procedure in the event of spotting a coastal emergency:

 1.  Dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ (European Emergency Number) and ask for the Coastguard

2.   Describe your location, if you don’t know exactly where you are use a clear description, landmarks or try and find someone who knows the area.   On some smart phones the compass app will also display the position as latitude and longitude. Alternatively, use an app such as OS locate or What3words

3.  Describe the number of people, animal and or craft that is involved

4.   Describe the problem = what you can see and or hear

5.  Give any further information such as closet access point for emergency services and any further updates on injuries to casualties

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Useful references

Have you downloaded the What3Words App yet?

What exactly is SafeTrx and how can it keep me safe?

Do you know who to call for a coastal emergency?

coastguard watersafety seasaafety communitysafetyrnli

Acknowledgements

Greenock Coastguard Team

RNLI

HM Coastguard

Do You Like To Cool Off In Open Water During Hot Weather? How To Spot The Hazards.

 

Let’s face it when the temperatures rise and we struggle to cool down, the thoughts of a nice cooling dip with friends in a river, canal, lake, reservoir or quarry is very tempting.

Let’s start off by looking at the dangers of open water swimming in reservoir’s below:

United Utilities Youtube Video on the dangers of swimming in reservoirs

The Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) have highlighted some of the dangers of open-water swimming below:

  • Height – at which you jump into the water – sometimes called tombstoning
  • The Depth of the water – can change depending on the season and is unpredictable
  • Submerged objects – may not be visible such as rocks, vegetation, rubbish thrown into the water such as shopping trolley’s and pedal cycles
  • Obstacles – people using the the waterway such as anglers, swimmers or kayackers
  • Lack of safety equipment – as well as the increased difficulty to carry out a rescue eg remote location, increased hazards, no mobile phone signal or no lifeguards
  • Cold water shock – will make swimming very challenging and increase the difficulty in someone getting out of the water
  • Strong currents – can sweep even the strongest swimmers away
  • River beds – unlike swimming pools, are uneven and vary in depth
  • Water quality varies – can be subject to industrial and agricultural pollution.

With careful organisation and planning ahead the risks detailed above can be controlled.

The following video made by the RLSS tells the story of families who have sadly lost their loved ones in drowning incidents. Please have a watch.

Beneath the Surface – the families’ stories

Thank you for reading and we hope this article has helped you understand the dangers of swimming in open water. More useful links can be found below:

Sign up to our monthly newsletter to find out more about our lifesaving work

‘Doing It For Dylan’ – Becky Ramsey’s inspiring campaign to share drowning prevention messages after her son tragically lost his life to drowning

Canal and River Trust Safety Information

RLSS Drowning Prevention Week

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service – Open Water Safety Swimming Advice

United Utilities Safety advice – Reservoir Safety Advice

Full acknowledgements to the RLSS, United Utilities; RNLI, Canal and Rivert Trust for the use of material