Thanet RNLI Community Safety

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Know Who To Call If You Spot Washed Up Military Ordnance or Discarded Pyrotechnics?
Know Who To Call If You Spot Washed Up Military Ordnance or Discarded Pyrotechnics At The Coast

Our team are regularly asked at events who to call in the event of someone finding legacy military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic (flare) on the beach or in the sea.  Amongst some of the HM Coastguard’s multifaceted roles includes investigating objects which have been washed up onto the coastline which may present a danger to coastal users.  During a spate of bad weather legacy military ordnance is often washed up onto our beaches. From time to time discarded pyrotechnic’s are also discovered.

Military Ordnance washed up onto the beach – Photo credit: Greenock CG Rescue Team

HM Coastguard advice:

  • In all cases if you ever come across something at the coast or sea which you believe could be military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard
  • Move away to a place of safety
  • Never touch the item or move it
  • Warn others of the possible danger
  • Always call for help if you are in any doubt whatsoever

Coastguard explosion proof box with kit (photo credit Greenock CG Rescue Team)

The Coastguard Operations Centre will then task one of their 24/7 on-call Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT’s) to investigate the find.  Once on scene they will undertake an examination of the item to ascertain if it is either military ordnance or a discarded pyrotechnic.  If it is a pyrotechnic the item will be removed and transported for safe disposal.

Flares found on the beach – Picture credit: Adrossan Coastguard

If the CRT believe it is military ordnance they will request the attendance of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the British Army or Royal Navy dependant on where the find is located.   Whilst setting up a cordon to ensure public safety awaiting the arrival of the military team.

Picture credit: HM Coastguard Margate

The military EOD team will conduct a thorough risk assessment and detailed examination of the item. The operator will either remove the item back to their base for safe disposal or carry out a controlled explosion at the scene with a safe cordon in place. Police and other other ‘blue light services’ may also be called upon to assist if required.

Further reading:

Controlled explosion for device washed up on Studland Beach

Selsey Coastguard controlled explosion on Medmerry Beach

HM Coastguard roles and responsibilities

Adrossan Coastguard WordPress – blog

How to dispose of time expired pyrotechnic’s (flares) – Thanet CS Team

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Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard

Margate, Greenock and Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue teams for pictures

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

Have you downloaded the What3Words app yet? It could help you in an emergency situation

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.

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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)

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Celebrating Headset Hero’s – International Control Room Week 2020 – HM Coastguard Operation Rooms

‘International Control Room Week’ is all about celebrating and thanking those people who are at the end of a ‘999’ call.  From 19th to the 25th October 2020 the week is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of truly remarkable people who are at the end of the phone or radio when we need them, keeping us calm, reassuring us and updating us. They stay strong, supporting us through the most challenging times.

NMOC Coastguard RNLICommunitySafety
National Maritime Operation Centre (NMOC) HM Coastguard

HM Coastguard Operation’s Centre’s around the UK are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Ready to take ‘999’ emergency calls or Mayday radio calls from someone who needs help at the coast, on the River Thames or at sea urgently.  There is no doubt it’s a highly challenging and demanding role.

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Margate’s ‘D’ class inshore lifeboat Photo credit: Margate LPO

Coastguard Operation’s room staff ensure that search and rescue assets such as coastguard rescue teams, helicopters, lifeboats and other blue light services are in the right place where they need to be, at the right time – helping and supporting as the emergency situation unfolds.

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Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team visit to Dover Coastguard Operation’s Centre (prior to COVID-19) regulations.

This year is even more important than in previous years as the men and women based in the Coastguard Operation’s Room’s have continued to provide emergency capability right through out lock-down and continue to do so through the Corona Virus emergency.

mentalhealth

To mark the celebration, APD Communications have also pledged to donate £1 to Mind the mental health charity every time #UnsungHeroes is used across social media and in the press during the 19th -25th October 2020. Mental Health has such a huge impact on the emergency services. With over 9 in 10 workers experiencing low mood, poor mental health and stress at some point whilst working for the emergency services. The challenging nature of the job, with its unique pressures puts staff at greater risk.

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Kaimes Beasley, controller Dover Coastguard Operations Centre – photo credit HM Coastguard

Please spare a thought for all the staff deployed in all control rooms providing essential communication, support and assistance to members of the public in times of need.   Just some of those control rooms include: Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, Highways Agency, Maritime Control, Border Agency, Coastguard, RNLI, Prison Service, Public Utilities, Armed Forces, St John’s Ambulance, Red Cross to name a few.

Below is a short video clip showing how the HM Coastguard would take an emergency call and despatch search and rescue resources.  As a reminder if you hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water at the coast dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard.

For more information on the week, visit:  International Control Room Week

headsetheros APDcommunications Fireandrescueservicecontrolrooms Coastguard Margatecoastguard ramsgatelifeboat margatelifeboat thanetlifeguards headsetheros

More useful links

Know who to call in a coastal emergency

What’s the difference between the Coastguard and RNLI?

APD Control Rooms Week

coastguardinternationalcontrolroomweek margatecoastguard margatelifeboat APDcommunicationsinternationalcontrolroomweek margatelifeboat ramsgatelifeboat thanetlifeguards RNLIcommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety bebeachsafe margate broadstairs margate knowwhotocall
Photo credit: HM Coastguard

Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard

APD Communications

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

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

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Out of date flares – How Do You Dispose Of Them Safely?

Out of Date Flares – How Do You Dispose of Them Safely?

If you are a sailor, yachtsmen or other water sport enthusiast who has purchased flares or pyrotechnic’s you will have asked …..”how should I dispose of flares or time expired pyrotechnics (TEP’s) safely”.

The advice is to firstly contact your supplier where you purchased the flares from and enquire whether they offer a ‘take back facility’ which may incur a small charge. Alternatively, speak with a life-raft maintenance centre or enquire with your council recycling centre.

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If the flares are still unable to disposed of safely then you are recommended to contact your nearest Coastguard licensed site.  Please bear in mind that due to current COVID-19 safety protocols being operated by the HM Coastguard it may not be possible to dispose of them via this route at this time.

The nearest CGOC (Coastguard Operations Centre) for East Kent is based at Dover and can be contacted on 01304 210 008.

Other licensed coastguard disposal locations are as follows:

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: Buchan coastguard operations base) Tel: 01224 592 334.

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: Inverness coastguard operations base) Tel: 01224 592 334.

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: St Andrews coastguard operations base) Tel: 01224 592 334.

CGOC Belfast 02891 463 933.

CGOC Belfast (licensed site: Girvan coastguard rescue equipment store) 02891 463 933.

CGOC Falmouth 01326 317 575.

CGOC Falmouth (Licensed Site Paignton coastguard operations base) 01803 882 704.

CGOC Holyhead Tel: 01407 762 051.

CGOC Humber Tel: 01262 672 317.

CGOC Humber (North Norfolk coastguard operations base) Tel: 01262 672 317.

CGOC Milford Haven Tel: 01646 690 909.

CGOC Shetland Tel: 01595 692 976.

National Maritime operations centre (licensed site Daedalus training centre) Tel 02392 552 100.

CGOC Stornoway Tel: 01851 702 013.

London Coastguard operations base Tel: 02083 127 380

RNLI headquarters Poole Tel: 01202 336 336.

(Reference : Maritime Coastguard Agency website)

The HM Coastguard have no responsibility for flare disposal and will only accept a small number at their discretion from private indviduals and small independent fishing vessels.

On contacting the relevant CGOC they will ask the following questions:

  • Who you have previously contacted to arrange disposal
  • How many flares you need to dispose
  • How old are the flares
  • What condition are the flares in
  • If the CGOC can help, they will arrange for a time for you to deliver the flares to an appropriate base/location where staff will be able to accept them safely

You may be asked to travel a significant distance to attend a disposal site and wait several weeks

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It is worthy to note not to turn up without an appointment at a HM Coastguard premises as you are likely to be turned away (not all premises are staffed 24/7) flares can’t be accepted from a business organisation.

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Flares are highly dangerous

  • DO NOT dump carrier bags of flares on the doorstep of Coastguard Station’s, Coastguard Rescue Equipment Stores, Fire Stations, Police buildings or Lifeboat Station’s. Many of these locations maybe unstaffed and the dumping of potentially dangerous flares is a safety hazard and against the law. Irresponsibly discarded flares may be picked up by children who could be seriously injured or killed by an abandoned pyrotechnic. In one incident a military Explosive Ordnance Disposal team had to be called out to a device which had been left outside a Coastguard station which also put the Coastguard team unavailable for emergency calls.
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Photo Credit: Margate Coastguard Rescue Team
  • Do not put flares in household rubbish, garden waste or public litter bins. They can cause extensive damage to refuse collection facilities and may injure persons who come into contact with them. An incident involving a worker at a recycling centre found out to his cost.

As a reminder

  • It is illegal to fire flares on land or in a harbour; fire flares at sea for testing, practice or as fireworks
  • Damaged or out of date flares should never be used.
  • It is illegal to dump pyrotechnics at sea.
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Margate’s All Weather Mersey lifeboat – Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

Every year lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams are called out to the sighting of flares out at sea.  Whilst personnel from both organisations will never complain about being called out to an emergency or what looks to be someone in need of help, in whatever weather and at any time of the day or night they urge people not to let off flares at sea unless it is a genuine emergency.

Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard, Greenock Coastguard Rescue Team

RNLI

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More useful links

HM Coastguard

British Sub-Aqua Club

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Showing support for National Emergency Services Day – 9th September 2020

Showing support for National Emergency Services Day

Our team are very proud to support the The Emergency Services Day which begin’s at 9am on 9th September annually (9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month) with two minutes’ silence to remember emergency services personnel killed as a result of their duties.   Normally there would be a series of events across planned across the UK, however, these have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The media and social media part of the 9th September will continue to go ahead. Fear not the Emergency Services day posters, leaflets and information can be downloaded via their website here

 

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What is the aim of the day

To promote the work of the emergency services, promote efficiency, educate the public, and promote volunteering opportunities. Volunteers are an essential part of the emergency services and they play a core part in keeping Britain safe. Such volunteering roles include; Special Constables, Retained Firefighters, NHS Community Responders, St John Ambulance, RNLI, Search and Rescue and Coastguard volunteers.  Our team will be showing their support by sharing content on social media and talking to our community about how important the day is. Keep following our social media channels to find out more.

The Emergency Services Day is also part of the Emergency Services Memorial, the ‘999’ Day is an excellent opportunity for other emergency services charities to fundraise, raise their profile and participate in this event. The day is inspired by Armed Forces Day (AFD), our team are proud to proud to support this event and promote the work of all emergency services across the UK.

Want more information

Would you like to get involved in Emergency Services Day?  More information on how to get involved

Follow the Emergency Services Day team on social media channels:

Facebook page

Twitter

More useful links

HM Coastguard Association

Emergency Services Memorial

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Acknowledgements

Emergency Services Day ambassadors and support team

Happy Birthday to the ‘999’ system

Ever wondered how the ‘999’ Emergency telephone system came about? Well it’s the 82nd anniversary of the World’s first emergency system, today Sunday 30th June.  Here is a video illustrating the start of the service in 1937:

It first saw service in the London area. The system was introduced following a fire in a house in Wimpole Street on 10 November 1935, in which five women were tragically killed. A neighbour attempted to telephone the fire brigade and was so outraged at being held in a queue by the Welbeck telephone exchange that he wrote a letter to the Times Newspaper Editor, which prompted a government inquiry.

The initial scheme covered a twelve mile radius around Oxford Circus in London and the public were advised only to use it in ongoing emergency if  “for instance, the man in the flat next to yours is murdering his wife or you have seen a heavily masked cat burglar peering round the stack pipe of the local bank building”.  The first arrest for burglary took place a week later and the scheme was extended to major cities after World War II and then to the whole UK in 1976.

One of our key safety messages that we share when out and about is “do you know who to call in a coastal emergency?’ Over half the people we speak to unfortunately don’t know to call the Coastguard via ‘999’ if they hear or see a person or animal in danger at the coast.   So, with the Summer already upon us and the increase in people visiting the coast we are asking everyone to dial ‘999’ straight away if they are in any doubt whatsoever that someone or an animal is in difficulty in the water at the coast.

 

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

Respect the Water

As part of the re-launch of the RNLI’s Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign our team visited Margate Main Sands on Saturday morning to chat to beach goers . It also signalled the return of the Lifeguard’s patrolling Thanet’s beaches. This was a glorious morning spent refreshing and reminding people about our key safety messages.  One of the key messages that we continue to reinforce is that if you should see someone or an animal who appears to be in difficulty in the water, fight your instincts to go in after them and instead call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard.

While Summer air temperatures may be warm, UK and Irish waters rarely exceed 15C, making them cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock, which causes the instinctive reaction to gasp and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning.

Our Community Safety Team briefing a coach party at Margate

With around half the coastal deaths each year being people who accidentally slip or fall into the water, the RNLI’s second piece of key advice:  If you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard and thrash about. Instead, float for 60–90 seconds until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath before then swimming to safety or calling for help.  Find out how to Float to Live by watching Evan’s Story below.

Anyone planning a trip to the coast is advised by the RNLI :

  • Check the tides before embarking on the trip
  • Choose a lifeguarded beach and speak with the lifeguard on arrival to find out about local tide times and rips
  • Swim between the red and yellow flags, which is the area most closely monitored by the lifeguards
  • If visiting the beach with your children, take a picture of what they are wearing when you arrive, which will make it easier to locate them if they go missing
  • Establish a meeting point incase you get separated
  • If a child does goes missing, make sure the remainder of the children in your party are supervised and calmly search the area where they were last seen
  • Inform the Lifeguards and or Police that the child is missing
  • Communicate to everyone involved in the search when the child is located

Assorted HM Coastguard and RNLI safety literature

You can also keep up-to-date via the Community Safety Team blogspot, Twitter or  Facebook  page for more information detailing the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign and to find out when the community safety team is active.

One Year On

I thought I would update you on how our first year of being operational has gone. Wow, what a year! The Summer was incredibly hot, as hot as the Summmer of 1976, if you can remember that far back! No stand pipes for water this time or hosepipe bans, but the UK saw some of the worst grass fires for a long time. Well, what has happened:  we have attended over 60 events to-date (still a few more before the year is out including the Coastal Dog Walker Engagement Event with Thanet Police at Botany Bay on Saturday 13th October), this includes community events, talks to community and water activity groups, lifejacket clinic’s, and pop-up stands at beaches and harbours to name but a few.

We have also shared the key safety messages to as many different groups and communities as possible, including visiting the fabulous Margate Mosque and chatting to the Inman; and holding a Respect the Water stall in the Gravesend Gurdwara which was a massive success.  The team have spoken to visiting coach parties and train passengers at Margate on how they can stay safe whilst visiting the seaside. This has proved really worthwhile working in conjunction with face2face teams, lifeboat crew and lifeguards to continually help spread the beach safety messages.

Reminding and Refreshing Beach visitors on Safety Tips

Our team have raised £1,000 towards the RNLI through donations received from groups and individuals after delivering safety talks in the community and at local events.

We have forged collaborative links with a whole host of local community groups, partner agencies and charities so that we can continue our community safety activities and help spread the RNLI key safety messages to as wide an audience as posssible.

Our team raised £1,000 with the help of an awesome local Kent County Councillor, Margate Mayor and other local charitable groups towards the running and equipment costs for Swim Safe. Incase you haven’t heard of Swim Safe, it is swimming lessons and water safety awareness in the sea for children aged 7-14 years run inconjuction with Swim England and the RNLI.

Pictured above is our ‘selfie frame’, this was the very 1st outing at the Turner and Pooch Dog Event on 30th September at the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

So, to conclude we have come along way in twelve months and we are looking at making 2019 an even better year. If you would like to find out more about our work then why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or check out our blogs which are published weekly during the Summer and monthy during the Winter. Thanks for reading and following our work, until next time take care.