Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Why Should You Be Extra Specially Careful This Year If You Are Thinking Of Taking A Festive Dip

RNLI lifeboat stations, the RLSS (UK Royal Life Saving Society) and their affiliated lifesaving clubs, in common with many other charitable organisations, have cancelled their very popular festive swimming events due to COVID-19 safety considerations. Also taking into account the responsibility to ensure that  blue light emergency services are not called out needlessly and the impact on the National Health Service is managed.

 

The RNLI and RLSS  are urging anyone who does venture into the sea or other open water locations over the Christmas and New Year period to be aware of the risks and enjoy themselves as safely as possible.

merseylifeboat RNLI RNLICommunitysafety ThanetRNLIcommunitysafety respectthewater
Margate’s Mersey All Weather lifeboat Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have both been busy responding to incidents involving swimmers this winter.

Earlier in December the Portishead lifeboat crew rescued a swimmer who had been in the sea for 80 minutes, while Sunderland lifeboat pulled another to safety after spotting him in the rough conditions thanks to his bright orange swimming cap and tow float.

openwaterswimming respectthewater RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety RNLIseasafety Lifeboats RNLI coastalsafety Kent Broadstairs coastalsafety harbours beachsafety

Have Emergency call-outs to swimming related incidents increased?

HM Coastguard have reported a 79.8%* increase in emergency call-outs for swimming related incidents year-on-year between January and November, compared to the same period in 2019.

Lee Heard, RLSS UK – Director, said: ‘While festive dips are an increasingly popular tradition with brave bathers in plummeting temperatures, we are concerned that with the cancellation of well organised and lifeguarded events combined with a rise in open water swimming participation this year that individuals may still choose to dip this festive period.

 

‘We simply urge swimmers to stay safe, be prepared and consider their actions on our already stressed emergency services, including the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews.’

RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety Lockdown COVID-19 bebeachsafe Margatecoastguard Thanetlifeguards Margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat birders birdwathers

Cold water shock is a very real danger for anyone entering water which is 15°C or below, with the average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland at this time of year just 6-10°C – which also poses a risk of hypothermia, even for the most experienced of open water swimmers.

RNLI Water Safety Partner Samantha Hughes said: ‘No one goes into the water in the expectation of needing to be rescued but we are asking anyone considering going for a festive dip to understand the dangers and not take unnecessary risks so they can have a good time, safely.

‘We recommend checking with your doctor before trying a cold water dip for the first time, especially if you have underlying health issues.

‘It is important to respect the water and there are a number of things you can do to help ensure you have an enjoyable and safe time such as not swimming alone, staying in your depth and knowing how to warm up properly afterwards which sounds obvious but is crucial to avoid any delayed effects of the cold and hypothermia.

 

‘The most important thing to remember is if you are in any doubt, stay out of the water and if you or anyone else does get into trouble in or on the water please call ‘999’ or ‘112’ immediately and ask for the Coastguard.’

 

What top safety tips should I follow if I intend going for a festive dip?
  • How can I be prepared? Check the weather forecast, tides and wave height
  • What should I take with me? Plenty of warm clothes for use pre and post dip. A nice hot drink in a flask such as soup, tea or maybe a hot chocolate will assist in warming you up afterwards.
  • What ‘calling for help device’ should I take : a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
  • Should I wear a wetsuit? Yes, this will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering from cold water shock
  • Should I go with a friend? If at all possible, if you can’t go to a familiar bathing spot and tell someone when you plan to be back
  • What happens if I jump straight into the water?  This could lead to cold water shock, walk in slowly. acclimatise slowly and wait until your breathing is under control before swimming
  • Should I wear a brightly coloured swim cap and consider using a tow float?  Yes, always wear one that is brightly coloured and a tow float is highly recommended.
  • How deep should I go? Know your limits and don’t stay in the water for more than 10 minutes
  • I have heard of ‘float to live’ what does it mean? – If you get into trouble lean back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing. This is what the RNLI call ‘Float to Live’.
  • What number and who do I call if I get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble?  Dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ immediately ask for the Coastguard giving as accurate location as possible
  • If I am in any doubt what should I do? There is always another day to go for a swim, if you have any doubts stay out of the water

Thank you for reading and stay safe!

 

Other useful links

Professor Mike Tipton – How to survive cold water shock

Sign-up to our newsletter

Ant Middleton – cold water shock

Demystifying rip currents

Margate Lifeboat

Ramsgate Lifeboat

Acknowledgements

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

HM Coastguard (HMCG)

Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS)

Professor Mike Tipton – Portsmouth University

Lifeboat Community Safety Team Help Beach Goers Avoid Tidal Cut-Off’s In Thanet

On Saturday (19th September) our Lifeboat Community Safety Team deployed using their Incident Prevention Engagement tactic to Thanet’s beaches due to the unusually high ‘spring’ tides over the weekend.  These tides are caused by lunar activity, such tides ‘spring’ forth with the greatest difference between their high and low points – meaning it’s easier to get caught out and cut off.   Coupled with the forecast of high winds and a relatively warm day there was a significant chance of people getting cut off by the tide.

 

Arriving on Botany Bay it was apparent that the beach was proving a popular Saturday retreat with a large number of people enjoying the mild late September temperatures.   Whilst chatting (socially distanced of course) with some of the visitors to the beach it was apparent that they weren’t aware of the dangers of the incoming high ‘spring’ tide, the tidal cut-off ‘hotspots’ ie Botany Bay, Kingsgate, Stone bay and environs; and Dumpton Gap. As well as the need to move around further up the beach to safety.

Whilst chatting to the lovely beach visitors our team covered the following safety advice:

  • Check the tide times and weather before setting out
  • Carry a ‘calling for help’ device ie fully charged mobile phone or VHF radio in a water proof case if possible so you can call for help if you get into difficulty
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Read and follow local safety advice displayed at the entrance to beaches
  • If you are going to take a swim always take a friend or family member follow the Water Safety Code
  • Not to enter the water if you are cut-off by the tide, but to shout for help
  • If you do end up in the water, float on your back until you get your breath back
  • In all coastal emergencies dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard

The team spoke to 55 people in total who were all very appreciative of the advice and guidance.  A group who were using an inflatable in the poor sea conditions were also spoken with and advised strongly against using the inflatable, who took onboard the advice and removed it to the safety of the beach.

Our team learnt later on in the afternoon that Margate Coastguard Rescue Team, Rescue Helicopter and Margate Lifeboat were tasked to a person possibly in difficulty in the water at Botany Bay.  Thankfully the person had come out of the water and was ok.

coastguard watersafety seasaafety communitysafetyrnli

John Homer (RNLI Community Safety Advisor) said “If you are visiting the coastline this weekend our advice is always to check out the tide times and weather before you set out.  We want you to have a great time, but taking onboard some advice could help save your life and help stop you getting into difficulty. We would like to thank everyone who spared a few minutes to speak with our team on Saturday and we hope you enjoyed your time at the coast”.

Useful links

How to check the tide times

Sign-up up to our newsletter to keep you updated on our water safety and drowning prevention activity

Can I suffer from cold water shock?

Find out how a 10-year old boy called Ravi used ‘Float to Live’ to save his life at Skegness

 

Acknowledgements

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

Margate RNLI LPO

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.
Thanetlifeguards RNLICommunitySafety RNLIWatersafety Respectthewater Margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat Whitstablelifeboat Eastkentebeaches Tombstoning Margatecoastguard 999coastguard Kentpolice BroadstairsBeaches Ramsgateharbour
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.

RNLIcommunitysafety seasafety blogs Coastguard swimsafe Ramsgate Margate Thanet Broadstairs
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

Demystifying Rip Currents – discover how to survive one

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

  1. 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.

More useful links:

Find your nearest lifeguarded beach

Do you know what to do if you saw someone in difficulty in the water?

Cold Water shock

It’s hot out there what to do if you get into difficulty? – Thanet Community Safety

Acknowledgements

Photo credits RNLI/Andy Perryman

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.

Don’t Paddle After Your Dog!

 

On Friday morning (14th June) Margate Inshore Lifeboat was requested to launch by the UK Coastguard to a person reported in the water at Botany Bay, after entering to try and rescue their dog who had got into difficulty in the sea.  The lifeboat launch was cancelled when the UK Coastguard received a further report that the person, along with a second person who also entered the water to assist together with the dog had made their way back to shore safely.

Members of the Thanet Community Safety Team using the ‘dog selfie’ frame at Dumpton Gap during a Coastal Dog Safety Pop-Up Stand

Friday’s call comes after another dog rescue near Minnis Bay on Thursday 6th June, when three friends rescued an 83-year old man who had jumped into the water to rescue his dog who unfortunately didn’t survive.  Fortunately, the rescued man didn’t require hospital treatment but was treated at the scene by South East Coast Ambulance Service.

RNLI Lifeboat Dog rescue compilation video

Andy Mills, RNLI Community Safety Volunteer gives this advice “if your dog does get into difficulty in the water or has fallen down a cliff, please do not enter the water or put yourself in danger, dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ ask for the Coastguard straight away. They will then task the appropriate rescue assets such as a lifeboat, Coastguard Rescue Team who are trained in cliff, mud and water rescue; or a Coastguard helicopter. The Coastguard or RNLI will not charge you for using their services and they won’t mind if you have made the call in good faith.

More information on RNLI dog walking advice

HM Coastguard Dog safety

Previous Thanet Community Safety Team blogspot on dog safety

Five things that you shouldn’t ignore about dog rescues!

Full acknowledgements to the RNLI for the use of the Youtube video

 

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.

Anglers – time spent in preparation will help save your life!

Angling is a seriously popular activity, which is growing yearly.  The RNLI estimate that around 1 million people participate in angling around the coast.  Unfortunately, between 2011 and 2015, 50 anglers lost their lives whilst fishing around the UK coast*. Sadly, expert evidence suggests that many of those lives might have been saved if the anglers had been wearing lifejackets.  You are four times more likely to survive if you are wearing a lifejacket (source Prof Mark Tipton University of Portsmouth)

Check out the video below to see what the the famous fishing guru Henry Gilbey found out about lifejackets when he visited the RNLI College at Poole.

 

Our top tips to follow when out angling at the coast:

  1.  Wear a properly maintained lifejacket at all times
  2.  Always carry a means of calling for help such as a VHF radio or fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case
  3.  Tell someone on land your plans eg what will the latest time you will be back and where you are going
  4.  Consider downloading and using the RYA SafeTrx App
  5.  Check the weather and tides before you go out
  6.  Have a plan if things should go wrong – this angler did and it saved his life
  7.  If you get into difficulty or see someone else that you think is in difficulty call ‘999’ or 112′ ask for the Coastguard straight away – every second counts.

HM Coastguard’s James Robertson (National Drowning Prevention Officer) advice on Sea Angling

More information on how to prepare for your angling trip at the coast can be found via this link

National Water Safety Forum – HM Coastguard film on cold water shock

Find out more about the free to use  and dowload SafeTrx App

HM Coastguard ‘On the Rocks’ safety advice

How to survive if you call into the water unexpectedly if you float to live

How to get your lifejacket checked by one of the RNLI’s Community Safety Teams

Did you know that the RNLI carry out free ‘Advice on Board’ sessions onboard to help you be safer whilst out on the water

 

 

 

 

 

 

*RNLI analysis of WAID UK fatalities accidental and natural causes only 2011-15 coastal dataset

Last blog of 2018!

It’s all about……Don’t Drink & Drown!

Well, this is the very last blog of 2018 and what a fantastic year we’ve all had. It’s been a pretty busy year with sixty five deployments to a variety of events, shows and engagements. One of our last deployments saw our team carry out the ‘Don’t Drink & Drown’ preventative patrols at Ramsgate and Margate harbours respectively. During this engagement patrol we teamed up with the Margate HM Coastguard Rescue Team, Kent branch of the Royal Lifesaving Society and the Thanet Community Pastors to share the Don’t Drink & Drown safety message to revellers and bar staff.

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team blog about Don't Drink and Drown
RNLI Community Safety team out and about sharing safety messages at Ramsgate Harbour

Over two consecutive evenings at both Ramsgate and Margate Harbours the teams engaged with two hundred people effectively sharing the key safety message of don’t walk home alone close to water after a night out, look after your friends so that they get home safely, don’t enter the water if you have been drinking; and alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble if you have been drinking.

Our ‘Safety Selfie frame’ being put to good use at Wetherspoons

On the lead-up to the Don’t Drink and Drown week I was fortunate enough to be interviewed on Thanet’s local charity radio station Academy FM about the importance of the campaign as Kent is the 2nd highest risk in the UK with regards accidental drownings (54 people died over the past 5 years 15 of those had alcohol in their system, statistics from National Water Forum Water Incident Database).

Isle of Thanet News article on Don’t Drink & Drown 

The Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) national campaign – September & December

So, that’s it folks thanks for reading our blog and for following our work. We will be back in January to share with you about the work of our Comunity Safety and rest assured we will have lots of exciting projects to share with you. Happy New Year!