Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Do You Enjoying Bodyboarding? Here’s How To Stay Safe

Bodyboarding is of the most popular board sports invented, with a reported 20 million surfers and bodyboarder’s across the world with the number on the increase.  Every bodyboarder has her/his own reasons for taking up the sport, however, the mixture of physical exercise, increase in wellbeing and mental health; being at one with nature; and getting a great dose of sunlight and sea air appear to be some of the the main benefits.   Numerous self-help groups across coastal area’s have sprung up using bodyboarding to combat mental health issues.

Margate Community Blue Light Day exercise 2019 – Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

Lifeguards and Lifeboat Crews are regularly called out to assist and deal with incidents involving bodyboarders.  Here are some safety tips to help you stay safe whilst having a fun time:

Top 11 Body Boarding Safety Tips

1. Body Boarding is much more fun with a mate –  It is always better to surf alongside another person for safety sake incase one of you should get into difficulty

2. Let someone know that you’re going out, the location & what is the latest time you will be back –  this is so important incase the HM Coastguard/Lifeboat have to start a search

3. Check out the tide times and weather forecast – there are plenty of free smart device app’s available to download for weather forecasting and tide times

4. Have you considered the dangers of rip currents? They are the cause of a significant number of lifeguard call-outs every year.  More information on rip currents

5. Be realistic about your limits. Even the most experienced bodyboarders have been caught out in the past.

6. Grab some training. There are a multitude of approved bodyboarding schools across the country. Why not grab a few lessons yourself before you head out for the first time.

7. Always wear a leash – So you don’t become separated from your board.  If you have got hold of your board you will have something to keep you afloat should you get into difficulty. It will also help lifeboat and Coastguard crews locate you more easily.

8. Wear the correct wetsuit – As well as keeping you warm, wetsuits will give some additional protection from rock scrapes or surfboard impacts.

9. Always think about other surfers and water users – learn about surfer etiquette and rights of way

10. Know who to call in a coastal emergency – If you see or hear someone or an animal that you think is in difficulty in the water dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard straight away.

 

11. Bodyboard between the red and yellow flags – the lifeguards are an excellent source of local knowledge eg hazards, tide times, weather forecasts, injury prevention amongst others.  The RNLI indicate that “British and Irish waters are incredibly unpredictable and one of the biggest dangers with bodyboarding is surfing outside of the red and yellow flag lifeguarded area, outside of lifeguard hours”.

Useful statistics

RNLI lifeboat crews launched 18 times to bodyboarders in trouble in 2016. In addition, RNLI lifeguards went to the rescue in 883 bodyboarding related incidents. Over half of these incidents incidents involved rip currents.

 

Ramsgate’s Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat

Useful links

British Bodyboarding Club

British Surfing

Surfing England

British Surfing UK Surfing Guide

Surfers Against Sewage

 

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard

 

Kitesurfing – Find Out How To Have A Safe, But Enjoyable Time 

Kitesurfing is arguably one of the most exciting and adrenaline fuelled sports you can do on the water.  But, staying safe is the most crucial part in having a fabulous time.  This blog explores some of the basic safety aspects of kitesurfing.

 

What is Kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing also known as kiteboarding (combining aspects of wakeboarding, snow boarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and skateboarding) is a wind-powered water sport utilising a kite and a board to help propel you across water.  Despite the name, it doesn’t have to involve wave surfing kitesurfing can be done on flat expanses of water, as well as in choppy sea or in big waves. All you need is water and wind.  Dependant on the strength of the wind and size of rider various sizes of kites are available.

UK and Irish waters are incredibly unpredictable and one of the biggest risks which kitesurfers face is kiting alone or in adverse weather conditions.

RNLI lifeboat crews launched 99 times to kitesurfers in trouble in 2015.  Out of these call-outs the majority were down to adverse conditions and kit failure.  RNLI Lifeguards were called to deal with 54 kitesurfing related incidents in 2015.

 

Following some simple steps to stay safe will reduce your chances of getting into difficulty and also help you gain the most out of this fabulous sport.

Kitesurfing Safety Hacks

  1.  Always kite with another person
  2.  If you do go alone, take a protected means of ‘calling for help’ such as a fully charged mobile phone, VHF radio and or Personal Locator Beacon (registered to you) which is easily accessible at all times.

 

3.  Tell someone where you are kiting and the latest time that you will return.  Consider downloading the free to use SafeTrx app on your smart device registering yourself as the vessel. This                   will help the Coastguard and lifeboat locate you quickly should things go wrong.

4.  Never ride out further than you can swim back.

5.  Have a plan should your equipment fail, practise your drills regularly.

 

6.  Prior to kiting check the weather, tides and swell forecasts.  Popular swell forecast websites and app’s include: Windfinder, Wind Guru and Magic Seaweed. When talking about checking                   the swell always consider: Wave height, Swell direction and Power of the waves. 

7.  Always kite within your capability, don’t go out in conditions which you can’t handle.  If the conditions are on the edge of your ability wait until a day where you can easily kite.

 

8.  If you are a new comer to the sport or haven’t been kiting for a while grab some coaching sessions from a recognised/approved instructor or club.  Follow safety advice from the British Kitesports Association and other registered clubs.

If you are learning overseas, make sure that you can communicate easily with your instructor.  Never be afraid to ask about the kit you will be using. Learning with new equipment in excellent condition is ideal, beginners should always be given personal flotation devices (PFD) and helmets as standard.

 

9.   Check what size of kite other riders are using.  If you don’t have the correct size don’t go out.

10.  Wear the right kit for the job eg wetsuit, helmet, buoyancy aid, boots whilst on the water.  Long sleeved top/trousers, helmet, knee/elbow pads, back protection and strong footwear for land based activity.

 

11.   Observe kitesport zones – Please observe local regulations and if you are unsure ask other riders, beach users or local beach/coastal officials.

12.   If you are asking someone to assist you in launching or landing provide some training to help them carry out the procedures.  Don’t ask anyone to help/land who isn’t familiar with kites.

 

13.   Check out the latest government advice for the area where you will be operating to ensure you comply with the latest COVID-19 pandemic regulations.

 

Andy Mills (Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team) says “Our team want people to enjoy themselves kitesurfing at the coast by making sure their visit is one to remember and not one they would rather forget. Taking some simple precautions and having a plan should things go wrong will help hugely in keeping people safe.”

Other useful links

Kitesurfing and Minnis Bay Sailing Club Visit

Sign-up to your newsletter

Ramsgate Lifeboat

Margate Lifeboat

 

Acknowledgements

British Kitesports Association

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

Kent Pirates

How To Enjoy A Fabulous & Safe Time At The Coast This Summer – Our Ultimate Guide

How To Enjoy A Fabulous & Safe Time At The Coast This Summer – Our Ultimate Guide

Just recently we’ve been very fortunate to enjoy some really nice weather and higher temperatures. Hurrah I hear you say!  This has resulted in large numbers of people flocking to the beach to soak up the sun and enjoy the seaside.

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), along with the HM Coastguard and all the Volunteer Beach Wardens who are helping to keep our beaches safe during COVID-19 want everyone to have a fabulous time, but to take on board some simple safety advice which will enable you to enjoy a safe time too.

Inflatables

You may have read some of the media reports that the RNLI have rescued countless people on inflatables so far this year who have drifted out to sea.  Two young people were safely rescued off Botany Bay, Broadstairs in July 2019. Our advice about taking inflatables to the coast is that they are meant for the pool and not the sea.  If you do use them in the sea follow this advice:

  • Children should be supervised at all times by an adult
  • Inflatables should be kept close to the shoreline
  • Inflatables should only be used between the red and yellow flags on a lifeguarded beach
  • Never use an inflatable in big waves
  • Never use an inflatable when the orange windsock is flying as this indicates off-shore winds that will blow the inflatable out to sea
  • Always follow the advice of a lifeguard
  • Whenever you take to the sea we recommend that you and your children wear a suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid. This will provide the necessary flotation should the inflatable suffer a puncture or similar

Float to Live

Enjoying a great swim in the sea is a fantastic way to relax and enjoy some exercise. However, if you do find yourself in difficulty or fall into the water unexpectedly remember to ‘Float to Live’ and watch this short video which could help save your life.

Cold Water Shock

Have you heard of ‘cold water shock’?  This video will give you some lifesaving advice about ‘cold water shock’.   Some tips to help you survive cold water shock include:

  • Take a minute. The initial effects of cold water pass in less than a minute so don’t try to swim straight away
  • Relax and float on your back to catch your breath. Try to get hold of something that will help you float
  • Keep calm then call for help or swim for safety if you’re able

Beach Safety

Taking alittle time before you set up for the day to think about the five safety tips above will help you enjoy an enjoyable time.  Lifeguards are frequently notified of missing children so having a plan incase a child goes missing is really worthwhile.  Children’s waterproof wrist bands which carry their parents/guardians mobile telephone contact number are available from the Lifeguards at most beaches.  Due to the COVID-19 situation the only beaches which are patrolled by RNLI lifeguards in Thanet are Viking Bay, Broadstairs and Margate Main Sands.

Knowing who to call in the event of hearing or seeing a person or animal in the water in difficulty or at the coast is so important. Over half the people we speak to during our events don’t know to dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard.  Asking for another emergency service could waste vital minutes in getting specialist search and rescue teams; and the correct equipment to the scene quickly.  More information on knowing who to call in a coastal emergency

Cut-Off by the tide

Around Thanet we are very lucky to have some beautiful coastline which is fabulous for walking and exploring.  Similar to other parts of the UK, some of this coastline (Dumpton Gap, Stone Bay and environs, Botany Bay and Kingsgate Bay) gets cut-off by the in-coming tide and every year people have to be rescued by lifeguards and lifeboat crews.  Getting cut-off by the tide is pretty easy to do unless you take some precautions:

  • Check the weather and tide times via tides near me app 
  • Carry a means of calling for help eg fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case
  • Let someone know where you are going and the latest time you will return
  • Wear the right clothing and equipment for the activity
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and take noice of hazard warning signs
  • If you should hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water or at the coast dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard every second counts
  • If you do get cut-off by the tide don’t enter the water, but dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly float on your back and follow the float to live principles

Don’t Drink and Drown

If you are enjoying a drink whilst at the coast make sure you take onboard the safety advice mentioned above.  Mixing swimming and alcohol could have dire consquences.  Find out more about the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign

John Homer one of our team’s most experienced Community Safety Advisors said “we hope everyone has an excellent time at the beach and the weather stays warm. Please take some time to think about the safety advice and have a plan if things go wrong. In 2019 two young people who were swept out to sea on an inflatable at Botany Bay knew how to ‘float to live’ definitely saved their lives”.

Other useful links

How do I prevent being cut-off by the tide?

Find your nearest lifeguarded beach

Why inflatables are not designed for the beach

It’s hot out there – what to do if you get into difficulty

Acknowledgements

RNLI