Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Why We Are Asking People Not To Set Off Flares And Sky Lanterns & On Bonfire Night – 5th November 2020

We hope everyone is keeping safe and well!

We are aware sky lanterns (sometimes referred to as Chinese lanterns which are often used in birthday and weddings celebrations) are being advertised as an alternative to attending the traditional bonfire night gatherings/parties due to COVID-19 government lockdown restrictions.  The sky lanterns are often set off on or close to bonfire night 5th November.

What are Sky Lanterns and why are they hazardous to animals

The paper lanterns are small hot air balloons, powered by a flame suspended on a wire frame which represents a significant fire risk to life, property, birds, livestock and agriculture when they come down to earth so should never be used.

 

Cause of fires

In 2013 CCTV footage proved a sky lantern to be the cause of a fire at a recycling plant in the West Midlands. More than 200 firefighters and 39 fire appliances were deployed over several days to tackle the blaze involving plastics and paper.

 

Unnecessary Calls-Out’s for Lifeboat Crews and Coastguard Teams

Near the coast they may also be mistaken for distress flares causing unnecessary searches by our lifeboat and coastguard team colleagues. However, both search and rescue organisations are still ready to respond to genuine incidents, but do not need unavoidable calls putting their own and other lives at risk at this time.  Remember: What goes up must come down. If you do plan on releasing these lanterns near the coast, let the Coastguard know when and where.  As an alternative you could consider purchasing:

  • stationary candles and nightlights
  • static lanterns or outdoor lights
  • or planting a tree in memory of a loved one

 

Flares

Flares are a critical piece of sea safety kit, it is illegal to fire them in non-distress situation.  Every year lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams are called out to the sighting of flares out at sea or coast.  Flares are designed to be fired over water. If fired over land they can cause serious fires.  Bonfire Night can be a big night for unnecessary call-outs. Flares and lanterns are easily mistaken for distress signals and each sighting of a flare or lantern has to be investigated fully. This could divert search and rescue assets (lifeboats and Coastguard Rescue Teams) away from genuine emergency situation and can mean an exhaustive search in challenging conditions putting volunteers at further risk.

 

Thank you for reading, and from all of our team take care and stay safe!

 

Other useful references

How to sign-up to our monthly newsletter

How to dispose of out-of-date flares?

What’s the difference between the RNLI and HM Coastguard?

Still want to help support the RNLI during COVID19?

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard

RSPCA

Wildlife Conservation Trust Thanet

Please Don’t Use The Sea For Exercise Or Recreation Over The Easter Break

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and the HM Coastguard are both calling on people not to take part in any water based activity on or in the sea, to help reduce the risk to the lifeboat crews, Coastguard Rescue Teams and Coastguard helicopter crews being exposed to COVID-19 and the pressure on their own time.

COVID19 CoronaVirus Margatelifeboat RNLI CommunitySafety
Margate’s Mersey ALB.  Photo credit : Sarah Hewes

Normally, hoards of people would be flocking to the coast over the Easter weekend and holiday period to enjoy the joys of the beaches and coastal area’s.  However, both the RNLI and HM Coastguard are asking everyone to abide by the government instructions to Stay at Home, Protect The NHS and Save Lives.

The government have decreed that everyone is permitted to go outside for their daily exercise whether it it is a walk, run, cycle or jog, however, the RNLI and HM Coastguard do not recommend taking part in any activity that is on or in the sea. This would include: any type of sailing, personal water craft (PWC), in-beach play, boat fishing, rowing, motor boating, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, off-shore angling, kayaking, canoeing, coasteering, diving, climbing or swimming amongst others.

COVID19 margatehmcoastguardteam Hmcoastguard Knowwhotocall lifeboats RNLICommunitySafety Seasafety
HM Coastguard Officers dressed in water safety kit during a multi-agency exercise. Photo credit: Margate Coastguard Rescue Team

The RNLI’s lifeboat crews and the HM Coastguard Rescue Teams are still available 24/7 for emergency calls, however, on every occasion a crew or team is called out this will put extra pressure on the personnel responding to the call and other emergency services such as the NHS hero’s, Ambulance Service; and Fire and Rescue Service. Additionally, potentially exposing teams and staff to the Corona Virus.

Our team really appreciate that it’s tempting to visit the coast. We all absolutely love the coast too. But please, this weekend, stretch your legs local to where you live, don’t stretch the RNLI and Coastguard resources and don’t travel to the coast. To quote the Coastguard “It’s not a holiday, it’s a national emergency”.

 

Gareth Morrison (Head of RNLI Water Safety) said: “We know that people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI Lifeboat crew volunteers and other emergency services.  While you could be fully competent and never needed to be rescued, by going out on the water you could encourage others who are less proficient to take part in similar activities”.

 

“Since the government lockdown was introduced around the UK Coast, our lifeboat have been called out all too often to rescue people. So, if you do go out for a walk or a run at the coast, please follow the RNLI Safety Advice”:

  1.  Take care near cliff’s – know your route and your limitations

COVID19 Coronavirus respecttheater RNLI RNLIWatersafety RNLICommunitySafety RNLICommunitysafety Margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat Respectthewater Bewateraware lifejackets beachsafety Thanetlifeguards

     2.  Check the weather forecast and the tide times

tides cut-off RNLI RNLICommunitysafety thanet Kent RNLICommunitySafety3. If you fall into the water unexpectedly FLOAT TO LIVE, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend back, extend your arms and legs – FLOAT

COVID19 Coronavirus Respectthewater communitysafety tidetimes

4. In a coastal emergency dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard

COVID19 CoronaVirus knowwhotocall respectthewater RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety RNLIseasafety Ramsgatelifeboat Margatelifeboat Bewateraware Broadstairsbeach margatebeaches ramsgatebeaches COVID19Thanet COVID19 Coronavirus

Gareth added “Our lifeboat crews are still at the ready 24/7 – thanks to their own courage in a time of crisis and the generoristy of our supporters”.

How to support RNLI crews during COVID-19

If people are compelled to show their support from home, we ask them to help by giving something that keeps our volunteers ready to launch, replace worn-out kit or helps us repair a lifeboat. To support our lifesavers go to the RNLI donation page

COVID19 Coronavirus RNLICommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety Lockdown stayathomesavelifes Respectthewater Bewatereaware margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat margatecoastguard

No lifeguard patrols this weekend

There will be no lifeguard patrols at any beaches this weekend as the planned roll-out of beach lifeguard patrols was postponed until further notice following government advice to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. From all of the team we wish you a safe Easter weekend!

Other useful references

What is the difference between the Coastguard and RNLI?

Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives

Sign-up to receive our team’s free newsletter

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard

Public Health England