Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Lockdown Water Safety – Do You Enjoy Your Running or Walking? Do You Know What To Do If You Fell Into Water

With an increase in the number of people pulling on their trainers or walking boots for their unlimited daily exercise in England by themselves  or with one other person, the RNLI are urging people to heed the advice if anyone who finds themselves unexpectedly in cold water to ‘float to live’.   Getting out into the fresh air for a walk or run is an excellent way of grabbing some exercise and or valuable ‘headspace’ time away from work or the stresses and strains of modern everyday life.  But, knowing what to do should you get into difficulty in water is essential.

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A recent incident near Blackburn involving a runner who accidentally fell into a canal who helped to save her own life by using the ‘Float to Live’ safety drill enforces the RNLI’s water safety campaign ‘Respect the Water’ very effectively.  Fortunately, the Aggie the runner who knew the route well escaped unhurt and without the need for hospitalisation. You can view the interview below which Aggie gave to the RNLI below explaining how she remembered the ‘Float to Live’ principle after seeing it advertised on television.

Chris Cousens, one of the RNLI’s Water Safety Lead’s, said “annual coastal fatality figures reveal over half (55%) of those who died at the coast in 2018 ended up in the water unexpectedly – a figure that has remained consistent in recent years. Chris says:

‘Aggie’s story really does prove the charity’s Float to Live advice is just as relevant inland as it is on the coast. Coastal fatality figures sadly show that many of those who lose their lives did not plan on entering the water.

Slips, trips and falls can catch people unaware while out running or walking. Knowing what to do if you fall into cold water, whether inland or at the coast, can be the difference between life and death.

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‘The instinctive human reaction when you fall into cold water can cause panic and gasping for breath, increasing the chances of breathing in water. Although it’s counter intuitive, the best immediate course of action is to fight your instinct and float on your back. More tragic water-related deaths can be avoided by knowing the risks and remembering the Float technique, just as Aggie did.

Coastal and Inland Water ways

Float to Live is something that you can use equally at the coast, as you can in a river, canal, loch, quarry or lake.  The short video above will demonstrate how to conduct ‘Float to Live’.

 

Water Safety Reminders

Here is a reminder if you are setting out for a lovely walk or run or any other outdoor activity which is close to water:

  1. Check the weather and tides
  2. Carry a ‘calling for help’ device such as a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case
  3. Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
  4. Wear the right clothing/equipment for the activity
  5. Read and take heed of any warning signage at the entrance to beaches
  6. Be aware of your surroundings at all times
  7. Be aware of slips and trips, keeping to recognised coastal paths
  8. Don’t enter the water should you get cut off by the tide, shout for help
  9. If you do unexpectedly find yourself in the water float on your back until you get your breath
  10. If you see an animal or person in difficulty in the water dial ‘999’ at the coast or on the River Thames and ask for the Coastguard or if inland the Fire Service giving an accurate location
  11. Abide by the relevant COVID-19 safety restrictions for that particular area

 

Stay Safe!

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Other useful links

What do I do if I saw someone in difficulty in the water?

What is cold water shock?

Why not sign-up to our e-newsletter?

RNLI Respect the Water

Acknowledgements

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

RNLI Water Safety Lead – Chris Cousens

Agnieszka ‘Aggie’ Kwiecien for allowing her story to be published

What Is Tombstoning And Why Is It So Dangerous?

Tombstoning is an activity which has been around for many generations, unfortunately, due to recent incidents whereby three people tragically died in 2020 and many more suffered life changing injuries it has gained notriety.

Tombstoning is defined as the act of jumping in a straight, upright vertical position into the sea, river or other body of water from a high jumping platform such as a cliff top, bridge or harbour edge. The posture of the body, resmbling a tombstone that gives it’s name to the activity.

 

You may have read in the news or seen on social media that three people were seriously injured between 30-31st May at Durdle Door, Dorset.  Here’s a video made by Ladbible in conjunction with the RNLI on a rescue by two beachgoers who saved a man from drowning after jumping off a cliff:

https://www.facebook.com/LADbible/videos/2708211482785707

Tombstoning offers a high-risk, high-impact experience but it can have severe and life-threatening consequences.  Consider these dangers first before you jump in:

  • The depth of water can alter rapidly with the tide – the water may be shallower than it first appears
  • Submerged objects like rocks, shopping trolley’s and broken bottles may not be visible – these can cause serious impact injuries
  • Cold water can make it difficult to swim
  • Getting oneself out of the water is often more challenging than people realise
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away

 

What Should You Do Before Undertaking Tombstoning

  • Check for hazards in the water. Rocks, discarded shopping trolley’s or glass may be submerged in the water and difficult to see
  • Always check the depth of the water. Tides can rise and fall very quickly
  • A jump of ten metres requires a depth of at least five metres
  • Jumping into water under the influence of alcohol or drugs can distort your judgement and make you more suspectible to taking more risks

 

  • Check for access. It may be impossible to get out of the water
  • Consider the risks to yourself and others. Conditions can change rapidly – young people could be watching and may attempt to mimic the activity.If you jump when you feel unsafe or pressured, you probably won’t enjoy the experience.
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Pictured: Stuart Cattell Thanet and Swale RNLI Supervisors. Photo Credit : Ian Dent RNLI

Senior RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, Stuart Cattell, said: “We know it can be very tempting during hot weather to jump into the sea from a pier or groyne, especially if you’re on the beach with a group of friends.

 

“Unfortunately it’s impossible to see hidden hazards under the surface, or to tell how deep the water is. Tombstoning means playing Russian roulette with your own safety.

“There have been 20 tombstoning deaths in the UK since 2005 and 70 reported injuries. Several people ahead of you might jump safely, but if you hit the beach – or a piece of wood or concrete on your way down – at the wrong angle, you could end up with life-changing head injuries, broken bones or permanently paralysis. Please stick to enjoying the weather and the sea by swimming  or using kayaks or SUPs safely.”

 

The best way to learn about the risks involved and have a good experience is to try coasteering – a mix of scrambling, climbing, traversing and cliff jumping around the coast with a professional guide.

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Ramsgate’s Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat returning from a service call Photo credit: Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team

Other useful links

Do You Know What To Do If You Saw Someone Drowning – Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Don’t Jump Into The Unknown – RoSPA

National Coasteering Charter – promoting safe coasteering

RNLI Educational Resources ages 14-18 years

COVID19 Coronavirus Respectthewater communitysafety tidetimes

Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Ladbible

Lifeboat Community Safety Team Returns Back To Saving Lives At Sea At Dumpton Gap

On Thursday evening (13th August 2020) our RNLI Community Safety Team were back out in action at Dumpton Gap after gaining permission from the RNLI to re-commence operational duties once again.

Following the suspension of all water safety and drowning prevention operational activity imposed due to COVID-19 the team have been unable to deploy to help save lives at sea by holding water safety engagement stands, deliver talks to schools and community groups; undertake Advice on Board sessions; and carry out lifejacket clinic’s.

 

However, after gaining permission on Thursday morning from RNLI HQ, the team quickly took the initiative and formulated a plan to deploy operationally during the early evening at Dumpton Gap which is a tidal cut-off point and very popular with dog walkers and other beach users.

John Homer (Thanet RNLI Community Safety Advisor) said “It was great to get out and about at Dumpton Gap to talk to beach users about water safety on Thursday evening.  The number of calls that the RNLI and Coastguard have received has significantly increased this Summer due to more people taking ‘Stay vacations’ and we are very pleased that we are now able to help share the key safety messages again to beach users to help save lives at sea. Our plea is to keep inflatable toys for the pool and not bring them to the seaside as they can be extremely dangerous as we have seen recently along the coast”.

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If you do decide to bring an inflatable to the coast please follow this advice:

  • children should be supervised at all times by an adult
  • inflatables should be kept close to the shoreline
  • inflatables should only be used on a lifeguarded beach between the yellow and red flags
  • never use an inflatable in big waves
  • never use an inflatable when the orange windsock is flying as this indicates and off-shore wind that will blow the inflatable out to sea
  • always follow the advice of a lifeguard
  • whenever you take to the sea we recommend that you and your children wear a suitable buoyancy aid or lifejacket.  This will provide the necessary floation should the inflatable suffer a puncture or similar
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One of the lovely doggie’s that stopped by to say hello to the team!

During the Beach Safety Deployment the team spoke with thirty members of the public about a wide range of water safety advice including using inflatables at the seaside, how to ‘Float to Live’, Coastal Dog Safe, Paddle Boarding, lifejackets and Tidal Cut-Off’s.

 

We would like to thank everyone who stopped by to chat to us at Dumpton Gap on Thursday evening.

Our team now looks forward to deploying again to help share the water safety messages to the Thanet Community and visitors to the coast.

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Other useful links

How to Float to Live

Inflatables aren’t designed for the beach

Find out where your nearest lifeguarded beach is?

HM Coastguard Advice on Inflatables

How to enjoy a fabulous and safe time at the coast our ultimate guide