Unfortunately, due to safety restrictions placed upon us due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have had to postpone many of our drowning prevention initiatives and lifesaving activity. However, we are still busy sharing key safety messages via social media and are permitted to carry out some ‘social distanced’ activity although on a limited basis. We are continuing to keep subscribers up to date with all the latest news with an e-newsletter which is delivered straight to your inbox.
You can keep up to date with the Thanet RNLI Community Safety team on all the popular social networking sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram !
News stories and communications about our events and activities as well as safety advice are posted to these social networks virtually every day….so it is worth following us. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols our team have not been able to hold any public facing community engagements. Therefore we have tried our best to share as much as possible across our social media channels.
Knowing what to do in the event of seeing someone in difficulty in the water could help save someone’s life. The majority of people will not just stand and watch someone in difficulty in the water. However, if your instinct is to jump in and attempt a rescue this could cost you your life. On a lifeguarded beach the best action is to alert the lifeguards straight away. But, what happen’s if the incident is out of season when the beach doesn’t have lifeguards on duty or you are on holiday and you spot someone who is in difficulty in the water?
During August 2019 a gentlemen very tragically lost his life in Porthmadog, North Wales after entering the water to try and save the life of his children. I am sure you will agree that we all admire the selflessness that drives people to risk their own lives to help others, however, the RNLI’s message is clear “Call for help rather than endanger your own life and the lives of others”.
Mike Dunn, Deputy Director of Education and Research at RLSS UK has provided the following guide
Call the emergency services before you do anything else, so help will be on its way.
Or ask someone else to call while you try to help the casualty. If you’re alone without a phone, find someone who can call for help. Give the following information to the Coastguard Operator if at the coast. Ask for the Fire Service if inland:
Give your location.
Describe the problem.
Tell them the number of people in danger.
Give any additional information that may be useful such as any access issues or hazards.
4. Shout and Signal
From the shore you have a better view of the area than the casualty. Shout and encourage them to stay calm and float. Remind them to kick their legs gently. Once they’ve caught their breath they may be able to reach a lifering in the water, a jetty, or a shallower area of water.
Some parts of the country have rescue boards (pictured above) which contain rescue equipment either a throw bag or a reach pole secured by a digital combination lock. To access this equipment dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard at the coast or on the River Thames. For inland water ways (canals, rivers, lakes, loch’s, pools) ask for the Fire Service quoting the identifying number on the rescue board which will allow you access to the emergency equipment.
If there is no public rescue aid equipment, throw anything that will float.
6. Safe Rescue
Before you pull the casualty in, get down on one knee or lie down so you don’t fall in.
Remember, even if your rescue attempts fail, emergency services are on their way. Keep sight of the casualty to help the emergency services locate them quicker.
As a result of COVID-19 safety protocols our RNLI Community Safety Team is currently unable to deploy to deliver face2face water safety messaging and drowning prevention advice sessions. We have recently witnessed a significant increase in the number of visitors to UK beaches and coastline coupled with a reduced number of beaches that are able to be covered by lifeguards it is even more important to get water safety messaging out to as wide an audience as possible.
Our team is asking whether B&B’s, hotels, cafes, restaurants, councils, shops, pubs, bars and businesses selling beach goods across Thanet which are located alongside or close to coastal and beach areas can help us share the Beach Safety message – “Beach lifeguards Can’t Everywhere This Summer” by printing and displaying the poster (downloadable poster contained here and below); and having conversations with their customers and members of the public about knowing to call the Coastguard via ‘999’ should they see or hear someone in difficulty in the water.
Andy Mills from Thanet’s RNLI Community Safety Team said “we readily appreciate that this is a very busy time of the year for all coastal businesses who have also had extra challenges to cope with due to COVID-19, but we are asking them to do what they can to help us spread the safety message “Beach lifeguards can’t be everywhere this Summer – Protect Your Family, Follow Safety Advice, Save Lives – In An Emergency Dial ‘999’ for the Coastguard”.
Obviously, we don’t want to put anyone at risk and only pass on the message where it is safe to do so complying with the latest Government guidelines. We want everyone to have a fun time at the coast, but taking on board some safety advice before you visit could help you from getting into difficulty and putting yourselves and others in danger.
Volunteer lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams have tirelessly remained available 24/7 to respond to emergency calls from members of the public throughout COVID-19″.
Thank you for your help in sharing the safety messaging which is much appreciated.
There is alot talked about rip currents, some of which is inaccurate. This blog is designed to dispel some of the myths.
Definition of Rip Currents
Waves that break on beaches create currents in the surf zone. The surf zone is defined as the region between the shoreline and the point where the waves are breaking.
Rip currents are seaward-directed flows of water driven by breaking waves that originate close to the shoreline and extend seaward across the surf zone, and beyond. Lifeguards commonly refer to them as ‘a body of water flowing out to sea’ following ‘a path of least resistance’.
How to spot a rip current
1. Darker patches in the water beside shallower sandbars
2. Rippled or churned water without breaking waves
3. Formation of foam
4. Bits of debris floating out to sea
5. Brown discoloured water where the sand beneath has been disturbed.
The video above illustrates some of the Rip Basics
Open-coast beach rips at low-tide during the summer of 2013 – Porthtowan, Cornwall.
5 RNLI Top Tips to Escape Rip Currents
Swim between the yellow and red flags on a lifegaurded beach
2. Alert Others
If you’re struggling in a rip current, always raise your hand and shout for help. Even if you feel able to get out of it, it pays to have others ready to help. Keep hold of anything that floats such as a surfboard.
3. Don’t Exhaust Yourself
If you try to swim against the force of a rip you’ll lose energy very quickly. Stay calm and float on your back until your get your breath back and assess the situation.
4. How Deep Is The Water
If you are able to stand, wade out of the current, don’t swim. Rips can flow at 4-5mph, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer!
5. Swim Parallel to the shore
If the water is too deep to stand and you can swim, swim across the direction of the current, parallel to the shore, until you are free. Use any breaking waves to help you get back to the beach. If you need to catch your breath first, relax and float for around 60-90 seconds. Some rip currents recirculate rather than flow out to sea and may bring you closer to shore.
Calling for Help
If you notice someone in the water who appears in difficulty, rather than enter the water yourself and get into difficulty or put other people’s lives in danger summon help first by either calling ‘999’ or ‘112’ ask for the Coastguard (Coastal areas or the River Thames). For inland water (eg rivers, lakes, canals, loch’s, quarries) ask for the Fire Service.
Thanks to the Dynamics of Rips and Implications for Beach Safety website- The DRIBS project was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council partnership research grant (code: NE/HOO4262/1) with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Weever fish are plain looking fish and are very common during the Summer months around the UK shore line. Often they nestle in the sand and in water just a few centimetres deep. A weever fish will raise a sharp spine on it’s back in self defence if it is trodden upon. Here are some top tips from our Lifeguard colleagues:
Place the effected area in water as hot as you can stand it for around 30 minutes. This will destroy the protein based venom and will allow you to continue your day at the beach. Test the water first so as not to scald the person who has been stung.
Whilst the stings are painful they are generally nothing to worry about and will not cause any significant damage
There are far greater risks and hazards associated with the coastal environments: the tides, water movement and the effects of cold water shock.
It is always recommended to visit a lifeguarded beach where trained lifeguards are available for advice for all things beach safety and first aid incase you are stung by a weever fish.
The Water Savvy Day is held yearly at Bewl Water, Lamberhurst, Kent. It is organised jointly by Kent Fire and Rescue Service; and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. The aim of this free fun day is to learn about how to stay safe around water. Our team thoroughly enjoyed working with the Gravesend Community Safety team on the day to share key safety messages about how to stay safe at the beach and coast. Some these will be mentioned later on.
Leanne McMahon, Group Manager for Community Safety at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, says about the day: “Our Water Savvy Fun Day is a fun day out for all the family, providing a rare glimpse into the fire services’ water rescue capabilities, and an opportunity to learn really important lifesaving skills. “Water safety is really important to us, and we are working hard to educate residents and visitors to the area about the dangers and how to stay safe while still enjoying being in and around water.”
One of our Gravesend colleagues chatting to children during the Water Savvy Day
The day was jam packed with plenty of activities and demonstrations including: the inter Fire and Rescue Service water rescue competition which this year was won narrowly by East Sussex; and Kent Police’s drone was put through it’s operational paces. Crowds were also treated to a display by the Police’s Marine and Diving Unit, as well as the fabulous Newfoundland Rescue Dogs, hands-on practical CPR skills with the Royal Lifesaving Soiety, further demonstrations from the Kent Lowland Search and Rescue team, Seaford Lifeguards and Sussex Flood Unit.
Fire & Rescue Service water rescue competition
Our RNLI Community Safety stand proved very popular with children and adults like. Some of the key messages we highlighted included:
Follow the Water Safety Code
Stop & Think (Look for dangers and always read the signs)
Stay together – never swim alone, always go with friends or family
Call ‘999’ or ‘112’ ask for the Coastguard (at the coast) Fire Service (rivers, canals & inland waterways) and shout for help
If you do fall into the water unexpectedly ‘Float on your back and try to hold onto something that floats,
The Water Savvy Day is such a great day to learn more about water safety, but also enjoy the wonderful Bewl Water. Keep an eye out for future Water Savvy Day events as they are great fun for all the family.
One of the fabulous Newfoundland dogs enjoying a rest after a rescue demo
A member of the Deal HM Coastguard Team kitted ready to deploy on the joint RNLI and Coastguard water rescue exercise at Walmer RNLI Station Open Day
Last weekend saw our team out and about covering anumber of events. On Saturday morning, three of the team made the short journey to Walmer to support the fantastic annual lifeboat station open day providing a lifejacket clinic and sharing drowing prevention advice in support of the Royal Lifesaving Society Drowning Prevention week.
Members of our Team with their Drowning Prevention & Lifejacket stand
The annual lifeboat station open day is a fantastic opportunity to get up close to both of the station’s Atlantic 85 and ‘D’ class inshore lifeboats, as well as being able to chat to the volunteer crew about their lifesaving work. The open day also helps raise much needed funds towards the running and up-keep of the Lifeboat station.
The open day this year featured static displays from the Community First Responders, Deal HM Coastguard Team who are highly trained in mud, cliff and water rescue as well as advanced first aid and high risk missing person searching; Kent Fire and Rescue Service, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue team. The open day operated alongside the Walmer Churches Summer Fete who provided some very enjoyable choral entertainment.
Deal Carnival Queen’s supporting Respect the Water badges on their sashes
The lifeboat crew also took part in a mock rescue in the arena and also out on the water with the help of the Dover All-Weather Lifeboat. A thoroughly brilliant day showcasing the fabulous lifesaving capabilities of the volunteer lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard. A special mention must be made of all people involved behind the scenes that work tirelessly to make a lifeboat station open day a huge success: the fundraisers, cake bakers, refreshment providers, lifeboat shop staff and children’s painting table/entertainment.
“Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement, so the risk is significant most of the year.
Average UK and Ireland sea temperatures are just 12°C. Rivers such as the Thames are colder – even in the summer.
Cold water shock causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, which increases the resistance of blood flow. Heart rate is also increased. As a result the heart has to work harder and your blood pressure goes up. Cold water shock can therefore cause heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy.
The sudden cooling of the skin by cold water also causes an involuntary gasp for breath. Breathing rates can change uncontrollably, sometimes increasing as much as tenfold. All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic, increasing the chance of inhaling water directly into the lungs.
This can all happen very quickly: it only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs for a fully grown man to start drowning. You could die if you don’t get medical care immediately”.
Check out this film from Professor Mike Tipton from Portsmouth University, it just could save your life
Drowning Prevention Week is the national campaign run by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to cut down the number of drownings that occur each year. Our team are actively supporting the Drowning Prevention Campaign by holding events and sharing content on social media.
Visiting the coast whilst on holiday, a short break or just for the day is always a great opportunity to unwind and spend quality time with friends and or the family. Maybe you will take in a bracing coastal walk, take part in some form of water activity or out on the water? Sometimes whilst on holiday people will take risks around water which they wouldn’t normally do. Follow our top 10 tips to enable you to have a safe, but enjoyable time:
Consider signing up for some training before undertaking any form of activity on the water from a recognised training provider
I can’t believe we are coming to the end of November already! We have been blessed with some really good weather recently and not too much rain. This month’s blog is all about knowing who to call in a coastal emergency. Surprisingly, over half the people we talk to when we are out and about at community events, on beaches and coastal areas do not know that in the event of seeing or hearing an animal or a person in difficulty in the water that they should dial ‘999’ they should ask for the Coastguard straight away. Many people opt to call the Police or Fire Service which wastes several vital minutes.
The Coastguard have Operations Centre’s (CGOC’s) dotted across the UK, at Aberdeen, Belfast, Dover, Falmouth, Holyhead, Humber, London, Milford Haven, Shetland, Stornaway and the National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham. Each is staffed 24/7 and answers ‘999’ calls from members of the public and Mayday distress calls via radio. In the event of an emergency at the coast, they will co-ordinate the tasking of search and rescue assets eg RNLI boats, independent lifeboats, Coastguard Rescue teams who are trained in mud and cliff rescue, advanced first aid, advanced missing person search techniques; and of course search and rescue helicopters.
Lifeboats and Coastguard are regularly called out to dogs who have either ventured or fallen down a cliff; or gone for an extended swim (often the owner may have also been cut-off by the tide). If this should happen then the Coastguard should be called without delay via ‘999’ who will then task the lifeboat or Coastguard rescue team. Our Team enjoyed a recent visit to the Dover CGOC where we learned alot about how the Coastguard operates. Remember don’t delay if you think anyone or an animal is in trouble in the water call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard.
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