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.
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.
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.
‘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:
Check the weather and tides
Carry a ‘calling for help’ device such as a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case
Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
Wear the right clothing/equipment for the activity
Read and take heed of any warning signage at the entrance to beaches
Be aware of your surroundings at all times
Be aware of slips and trips, keeping to recognised coastal paths
Don’t enter the water should you get cut off by the tide, shout for help
If you do unexpectedly find yourself in the water float on your back until you get your breath
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
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.
Swim Safe has been taking place at Margate main sands since July every Monday and Friday and has proved highly popular. On Friday (23rd August) our team popped down to support the programme and also to chat to other beach visitors about key water safety messages ahead of the bank holiday weekend. The Swim Safe programme is run at various sites across the country and children learn about aspects of water safety and how to swim safely in open water for no charge.
Margate main sands is such a lovely beach and is an ideal location for Swim Safe to take place as even at high tide there is still a large expanse of sand available to use and is close to public transport links. Margate Swim Safe is also very lucky to have the highly experienced swim teaching team led by Gail Crompton from the Ocean Swim School leading all classes.
It was marvellous to host a visit from Councillor Liz Hurst and the Mayor of Margate Mick Tomlinson. Both of whom are huge Swim Safe supporters enabling the scheme to operate and it was great to talk through the programme and see it in action.
Swim Safe’s very last day of operation is Friday 30th August with the first session of the day starting at 9:30am. There are still places available throughout the day, so if you haven’t booked your child(ren) onto Swim Safe yet, this is the last opportunity before it closes down for the winter. You can book on-line or walk-up and speak with the Co-ordinator.
The only qualification your child(ren) has to fufill is that they must be able to swim 25 metres unaided in a pool. Participants are given a wet suit, rash vest and hat to wear during the session free of charge which are returned at the end (apart from the hat which they are welcome to keep). Teaching is conducted on the sands initially and then progressing into the water. All of the feedback Gail and her team have received throughout the Summer’s programme has been very positive and is an ideal opportunity to learn essential water safety drills such as Float to Live and open water swim techniques.
As well as supporting the Swim Safe sessions we were able to chat with other beach visitors about how to stay safe whilst at the coast which was fabulous to do. Passing on information about the different beach flags, who to call should you see someone in the water in difficulty, the role of the lifeguards and also handing out the hugely popular children’s water proof wrist bands which carry the parent/guardian mobile telephone number should they get separated.
It proved a very succesful and enjoyable day spent on the beach helping to keep people safe. Thank you to everyone we spoke with for their time and to all of whom attended the Swim Safe sessions which we hope you enjoyed.
Our team are again supporting the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS UK) Don’t Drink and Drown Campaign which takes place between 12th – 19th September. This is a national campaign that warns drinkers to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol. The campaign was launched following a string of tragic student drownings around the UK.
The campaign kicks off as first year students start their new University term known as Freshers Week. Many of whom will have never been away from home before, will be initially unfamilar with their surroundings and will enjoy socialising with their new University friends often drinking alcohol during nights out or at social functions. Unfortunately, there have been several fatalities over recent years including Charlie Pope a student in Manchester who very tragically died after falling into a Rochdale canal after a night out in March 2017.
Research indicates that around a quarter of all adult drowning victims had alcohol in their bloodstream.
In December 2018, our team undertook ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ engagement evenings at Ramsgate and Margate harbours working in partnership with the Margate HM Coastguard team, Thanet Lifeguard Club and Thanet Community Pastors. Whereby we visited numerous bars around each respective harbour sharing the ‘Don’t Drink ad Drown’ safety tips (which can be found below) and handing out free ‘glow in the dark’ wrist bands.
The following top tips will help you get home safely
Don’t walk home alongside water after a night out
Make sure your mates get home safely after a night out, don’t let them walk by the water
Plan your journey home before you go out, book a cab inadvance
Paths by the water are not safe when you’re drunk, find a better route home
If you do end up in the water unexpectedly ‘float to live’
The RLSS Youtube video ‘Beneath the Surface – Families Stories’
What affect does alcohol have on the body?
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to impaired judgment which means you are more likely to take risks and get into trouble
Alcohol limits muscle ability making simple movements much harder
Alcohol slows down your reactions making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
Alcohol numbs the senses particularly sight, sound and touch, making swimming very difficult
Mixing swimming and alcohol is definitely a bad idea!
There were 451 accidental drownings involving alcohol and/or drugs in the UK from 2013-2017, with an average of 90 per year. This represents 29% of all accidental drownings that occurred in the UK during this period.
Do you know someone who will be going away to University or College this year?
If you know a relative, friend or work colleague who will be going away to University this year please pass on the safety messages which are contained in this blog it just could help save their life.
Social Media & Newsletters
You can stay informed about our lifesaving activity by signing up for free to receive our newsletter. You my also like to follow our team on social media for updates.
Our Community Safety Team were proud to be invited along to hold a Respect the Water stand at the fantastic Margate Pride on Saturday (10th August). This is the second year running that the team have attended Pride and the team always relish the opportunity to support such a iconic event. It was also fabulous to see other community groups and agencies supporting the event which seems to get bigger each year. Well done to all Pride Market participants and lovely Pride goers for braving the windy weather!
Kent Fire and Rescue Service incl: Chief Officer Ann Millington (2nd from right)
Our Selfie Safety Frame was put to good use
The Kent Sexual Health Team
The very vibrant Pride procession passing the sea front
Local bars, cafes and restaurants were festooned with bunting and flags to mark the occasion
Thank you to the army of volunteers who work extremely hard behind scenes to make Margate Pride such a fabulous event. We look forward to next years event which we are sure will be even bigger and better than this years!
Our Respect the Water table (pictured Andy left and Ian right)
⚡Our team really enjoyed sharing key coastal safety messages, handing out free tennis balls and doggie treats to awesome dog 🐕owners/doggie’s, and beach walkers at their awesome pop-up Safety Stand at Dumpton Gap on Sunday 24th February. Thank you to everyone who popped along to say hello and we hoped you enjoyed your walks. The key messages we shared included:
➡️ If your doggie goes for an extended swim in the sea or falls down a cliff in their attempt to chase a sea gull, please don‘t go enter the water/climb down the cliff to save them. ☎️Call ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard straight away. The 🚨Coastguard🚨 are experts in cliff, water and mud rescue ➡️ Tell someone your plans e.g. what is the latest time you will arrive home ➡️ Check the tide times before you venture out via the ‘Tides near Me App’ ➡️ Wear the right clothing for the trip ➡️ Carry a means of ‘calling for help’ e.g. fully charged mobile phone ➡️ Be aware of your surroundings at all times ➡️ Read local warning signs ⚠️e.g. tidal cut-off and cliff rock-falls
On 3rd April our team really enjoyed chatting to the great Ramsgate Probus Club at the fabulous RTYC Ramsgate . Covering our key safety messages, the Thanet coastal patrol concept, Swim Safe and the RNLI’s wider drowning preventative/search & rescue work both in the UK, Republic of Ireland and world wide. We were really interested in a press cutting hung on the wall in the RTYC from the ‘London illustrated News’ dated April 10th, 1864. Entitled ‘Ramsgate Lifeboat Morning After A Heavy Gale – Weather Moderating’. A fabulous example of the RNLI’s heroic work in highly dangerous and challenging sea conditions with very little protection.
Thank you very much to the President for the very kind donation and for hosting our team’s talk which Is hugely appreciated.
On Saturday 20th April Our team deployed out to Botany Bay with a pop-up water safety stand. The team shared key safety messages particularly about beach safety, the need to call the Coastguard for all coastal emergencies, swimming🏊♀️, kayacking🛶, surfing🏄♀️ and dog walking🐕. In addition to highlighting Swim Safe and lifeguard recruitment. A hugely successful day chatting to lovely beach and coastal visitors. Great to see one of our Respect The Water campaign stickers being stuck to a scooter.
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.
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