Our team is often asked what’s the difference between the Coastguard and the RNLI? Her Majesty’s Coastguard (HMCG) – commonly known as the Coastguard – is part of the UK Government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and are in charge of all maritime and rescue operation’s in the UK.
The Irish Coastguard (IRCG) covers the Republic of Ireland. When you dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ or make an emergency call from a VHF radio and ask for the Coastguard you will be put through to one of the operations centres which are dotted across the UK. They will co-ordinate the response and task the appropriate assets such as lifeboats, Coastguard Rescue Team’s, helicopter and or other blue light services Police, Fire and Rescue; or Ambulance.
Coastguard’s in the operation’s centre can call upon Coastguard Rescue Team’s which are made up of volunteers based all around the coast, who are ready to respond 365 days a year. The teams are highly trained with a specialist skillset in water, mud and cliff rescue; advanced first aid and now trained to search for high risk vulnerable missing persons.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is an independent UK and Republic of Ireland charity. It’s a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service that is a declared asset of the Coastguard to be tasked to an incident. The RNLI is a registered charity that has been saving lives at sea since 1824. It provides an on-call 24 hour lifeboat search and rescue service and a lifeguard service (available during the Summer months) along with a flood rescue capability.
Once again this year our team are supporting the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2-8 December.
On Thursday 5th and Friday 6th December, we along with teams from RLSS UK, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent Police, HM Coastguard Margate and the Community Pastors will be out and about talking to bar staff, venue security, taxi drivers and members of the public about keeping people safe whilst under the influence. Kent was ranked in the top three counties for drink and drug related drownings.
We will also be sharing water safety advice via our social media channels daily as well as the RLSS UK’s brand-new film via social media which shows how easily a fun night out can turn into tragedy, and how staying with your friends can make all the difference.
Latest statistics revealed 53 people have accidentally drowned in Kent over the last five years and 32% of these (17) were found to have had alcohol and/or drugs in their system, making it the 2nd highest county for drownings linked to intoxication.
Nationally there were 1,4581 accidental drowning deaths in the UK between 2014-2018 and more than 30% of the victims had alcohol and/or drugs in their bloodstream*. Many of them drowned because they walked home alone and fell in the water.
Hannah Wiggins-Bettles, RLSS UK Community Drowning Prevention Coordinator for the Kent area, said: “It’s a sad truth that the number of drownings increase in the winter period, more often than not because of intoxication.
“Families, friends and whole communities are left devastated every year because someone walks home alone whilst under the influence and falls into the water.
We’re urging people to stay together on a night out. Make sure their friends get home safe and don’t let them walk anywhere, especially near water, alone.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager for Customer Safety, Colin King, said: “It only takes a small amount of alcohol to impact your ability to save yourself in water. Even strong swimmers with no alcohol in their system could struggle if they fell into a river, due to underwater currents and the effects of cold water shock, which includes involuntary inhalation and can result in drowning. So if you fall in after just a drink or two, you’re likely to drown because your reaction times are reduced, instincts are skewed and coordination is impacted. Have fun this Christmas, but please take care and think before you drink near water.”
Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Andy Mills said: “We are happy to support this critically important campaign and hope that everyone stays safe.”
The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2 to 8 December, was launched in 2014 following a string of tragic drownings of young people. RLSS UK was keen to prevent more tragedies, by targeting at risk groups in hot spot areas, at particular points in the year where alcohol related drowning incidences increase – September (at the start of the new university term) and December (during the festive period).
As part of the campaign, organisations up and down the country promote water safety messaging and run awareness activities urging revellers to take care near water whilst under the influence of alcohol and/or.
Stay Safe this Christmas:
Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in
Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking
Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble
For more information on RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign visit www.rlss.org.uk, follow the campaign on #DontDrinkandDrown, or call 0300 3230 096
Stats taken from National Water Safety Forum Water Incident Database (WAID) of which RLSS UK is a member. Data is used from 2014-2018, including accidental and natural cause records only. Adults aged 18 years+. Alcohol records are suspected or confirmed deceased, based upon Coroners and emergency service records, court records.
On Monday (18th November) I was privileged to attend the 2019 Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) National Water Safety Conference in London – ‘Making Every Community Count’.
The RoSPA conference is where a multitude of influential organisations, charities and government agencies who are all involved in drowning prevention and water safety meet up to examine how they can collectively improve in reducing fatalities around water. It is three years since the launch of the National Water Safety Strategy which is supported by Government and this wide range of organisations which is making significant efforts to address the five key targets to help improve water safety.
The conference was opened by Mr George Rawlinson who is the National Water Safety Forum Independent Chair. One of the points which was clear from Mr Rawlinson’s opening address is that “Collaboration is essential if we are to succeed in reducing fatalities around the waters of the UK, inland and coast”.
Conference speakers included: Mr Dominic Watkins from DWF Law LLP., who spoke about the independent review of the legal framework on who owes legal responsibility for ensuring water safety on the coastline. This was commissioned on behalf of the HM Coastguard Agency following the very tragic deaths at Camber Sands.
The second speaker up to the podium was introduced as Mark Towens, the Port of London Authority Harbour Master. Mr Towens led the audience through the development and delivery of the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum strategy which you may remember was launched by HRH Prince William earlier in the year. The aim of the strategy is to reduce the 700 incidents and 30 fatalities resulting from accidental or deliberate drowning (suicide) along the River Thames.
Mr Nick Pope was invited up to the stage and spoke about his son’s very tragic and sad death whilst returning home after a night out as a student in Manchester. When Mr Pope spoke you could hear a pin drop in the room talking openly about how we can all help #MakeCharlieTheLast.
Further speakers included Mr Justin Scarr (Chief Executive Royal Life Saving Society Australia), Mr David Walker (Leisure Safety Manager for RoSPA) who revealed that rivers suffered the highest proportion of UK accidental drowning casualities, that future focus should include the pro-active sharing of good practise; Mr Brian Johnson (Chief Executive, Maritime Coastguard Agency) and Dr Peter Aitken (Director of Research and Development, Devon Partnership NHS Trust). It is Dr Aitken’s talk which I will focus on next.
Dr Aitken delivered a truly inspiring talk entitled “Boats, Barbers, Prisoners and Farmers”. Dr Aitken explored the way in which ‘crowd sourcing’ could be harnessed to help increase suicide prevention amongst the wider community, by mobilising community expertise to look out for people who are in need of help particularly in areas which may attract people who wish to take their own lives.
You may have already come across the ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ which is such a fantastic campaign started by the Samaritans which is really important to follow and use. It was also very interesting to learn that studies by Dr Aitken show that if the press or others disclose the identity (male/female), location and means that there is direct causation to two further suicides. You can follow Dr Aitken’s work via his twitter feed
I would like to thank David Walker and his team from RoSPA who organised and deliverd the conference and to the excellent speakers who provided a highly invaluable and a very worthwhile day.
The RNLI Thanet Community Safety Team were invited by the Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic Province of East Kent, Right Worshipful Brother Neil Hamilton Johnston to the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity Award Presentations at the Cathedral Lodge at Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 16th November. We were among several other worthy charities from around the county who each received generous donations from this charitable organisation. The RNLI Thanet Community Safety team are very grateful as the donation contribute towards the Swim Safe Scheme, which this year allowed 1,008 children to have swimming lessons at Margate Beach.
During the ceremony, 16 charities gave presentations about the good works that they each did. John Homer from our team gave a presentation about Swim Safe, how it was delivered and how important the charitable contribution was to the welfare and confidence of each child taking part.
Andy Mills, RNLI Thanet Community Safety Officer said, ‘Swim Safe is a fantastic programme that helps to keep children safe. It gives each child greater awareness of how to enjoy the sea safely. It’s an integral part of our Community Safety plan.’
He added, ‘Since its inception last year it has grown from 500 children taking part to 1,008 this year. Nationally 22,000 young people took part in a Swim Safe session this Summer. Without the generous support of organisations like the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity, we would not be able to deliver these sessions …so from everyone on our team…thank you so much.’
Picture shows John Homer (Left), Ian Lockyer (right) (RNLI Thanet Community Safety Team) with Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic Province of East Kent, Right Worshipful Brother Neil Hamilton Johnston (Middle)
The Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity website is currently in development, but you can find out contact details for the charity there: http://cornwallisekfc.org.uk/
Enjoying a walk or run with family, friends and or your beloved dog can be such great fun during Winter time. Having some knowledge on how to stay safe whilst out and about during winter will enable you to have a great time.
Lakes, pools, reservoirs and canals can get frozen over during cold weather, which look very picturesque but all too often people venture out onto the frozen lakes and find themselves in difficulty in the water. Sadly in the past there have been numerous incidents where people have entered the water under ice with the best intentions to either attempt the rescue of another person or a dog and they have tragically become a fatality themselves.
The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) has come up with some useful tips on what actions to take in an emergency situation:
Only use well lit areas
Time your walks to make the most of the daylight; if you need to walk in the evening only use well-lit areas or take a route not alongside water.
Keep back from the edge
When walking alongside water keep back from the edge.
Keep dogs on their leads
Keep dogs on their leads when near ice and don’t throw sticks or toys onto the ice.
Don’t go on the ice to rescue a dog
Don’t go onto ice or into the water to rescue a dog, move to somewhere that the dog will be able to climb out and call them towards you.
Know who to call in an emergency
If you hear or see an animal or person who has fallen into through the ice or into the water shout for help and call ‘999’ or ‘112’ ask for the Coastguard at the coast or on the River Thames; and Fire and Rescue Service if inland at a lake, pool, river, reservior, quarry or loch.
Do not walk or climb onto the ice to attempt a rescue. Try and reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, tree branch, clothing tied together or anything else which can extend your reach. If you cannot reach them, slide something which floats, such as a plastic bottle or football, across the ice for them to hold onto to stay afloat whilst help is on the way.
You may have heard of our Community Safety Team through our social media channels or face-to-face at local community events. Incase you weren’t aware of our team’s work this blog is designed to increase your awareness of what we do to prevent drownings and other water safety incidents.
The RNLI recruited Volunteer Community Safety Teams to raise safety awareness at local level by developing lifesaving plans, including identifying ‘at risk’ groups and providing targeted safety advice.
The four Coastal based activities that we target in the Thanet area are as follows:
Yacht sailing and motor boating
In-water play and beach users
Inorder to effectively target these activity areas the team uses a range of tactical interventions. Some of these are described below.
1. Lifejacket Clinic’s
Lifejacket clinics are run on a regular basis either at a yacht club, Lifeboat Station or on one of our harbour ‘walking the pontoon’ initiatives. Our team will check the overall integrity of the individual jacket, gas cyclinder and firing mechanism. They are unfortunately unable to conduct a full service, supply spare parts or inflate the jacket. We recommend that your lifejacket is serviced by a manufacturer or service agent. Further information on lifejackets can be found on an earlier blog post.
2. Incident Prevention Engagement (IPE)
This is conducted where an incident has already taken place and engagement is required to try to deter a repeat incident. An example of this is where our team deployed to the area of Botany and Kingsgate Bay after several incidents of people being cut-off by the tide. More information on how we are helping to share tidal cut-off information can be found here.
Our ‘pop-up’ Respect the Water and Drowning Prevention stands are held at a variety of community events, places of worship such as Mosque’s, Gurdwara’s and church’s; and other venue’s where our message can be shared effectively.
6. Transport Hub Engagement
During the busy Summer months our team visit Margate main sands and the railway station area to chat to beach visitors to highlight key safety messages. This is an exciting development as a significant proportion of people who are rescued by the lifeguards and lifeboat crews are from outside the Thanet footprint.
Briefing to Thanet Royal Air Force Air Cadets
7. Talks to outside groups
Our team are able to deliver bespoke presentations to outside groups on a variety of water safety topics, some of which include: an interactive discussion on emergency alerting for sailing and boating clubs. This presentation is supported with a broad range of emergency alerting equipment including Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB’s), Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s), Marine Band VHF Radio’s, Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) Search & Rescue Transponders (SARTS), Distress Flares and Emergency Visual Distress Signals (EVDS). Other presentations include: tombstoning to youth groups, coastal walking, open water swimming and diving amongst others.
If you are interested in one of our team visiting your group and delivering a presentation then contact our team via email Andrew_Mills@RNLI.org.uk or private message us on Facebook.
8. Advice on Board (AOB)
An AOB visit entails an open discussion with any boat user (sailing, kayaking, angling etc.) on how to use safety equipment, how to maintain it and how to plan for things that might go wrong out at sea. These visits take place wherever the users boat happens to be – a harbour, marina, boatyard or on the back of their trailer at home. Book an AOB via our Facebook page
We would like to pass on our sincere thanks to Councillor Raushan Ara, the Town Council Clerk and Staff for organising the event and for inviting us along. We would like to wish Councillor Ara well in her term of office as the Worshipful Mayor of Ramsgate Town.
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.
The Summer months are a fabulous time to enjoy water activity either at the coast or inland at home and abroad. Unfortunately, some people are prepared to take risks whilst on holiday which they wouldn’t necessarily do and not take some basic precautions. We are committed to sharing safety messaging to as wide an audience as possible working closely with other organisations and agencies to help prevent drowning incidents. Here are the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) Summer Water Safety top tips to help keep you safe:
1. If you’re looking for a place to cool off always find a lifeguarded swimming site.
2. Water at open water and inland sites is often much colder than it looks, cold water can affect your ability to swim and self-rescue.
3. Don’t go too far – Always swim parallel to the shore, that way you’e never too far away from it.
4. It’s stronger than it looks – Currents in the water can be very strong. If you find yourself caught in a riptide – don’t swim against it – you’ll tire yourself out. Swim with the current and call for help.
5. Bring a friend – Always bring a friend when you go swimming so if anything goes wrong you’ve got someone there to help.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.