Paddle Boarding or SUP, has really caught on in recent years, seeing a real growth whether it’s on a solid paddleboard or an inflatable one. The SUP’ing is an excellent way to improve your fitness, including your core strength.
There is nothing better than enjoying a lovely walk with your dog at the coast taking in sea air, grabbing some exercise and enjoying time with your friends and family. However, lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT) are frequently called out to rescue dogs that have entered the water for one reason or another or fallen over the edge of a cliff. Sometimes their owners will enter the water to try and rescue them too. In 2019 RNLI crews were launched 157 times to incidents involving dogs.
The Isle of Thanet coast has some of the most beautiful beaches and coastline in the UK which draws visitors at all times of the year (nineteen miles of coastline in fact). Exploring the coastline on foot is an excellent way of enjoying valuable time with family and friends, whilst grabbing fresh air, exercise and at the same time relaxing. Holiday times are great occasions to get out and enjoy the coast.
Angling is one of the most popular hobbies and sports enjoyed by a wide cross section of the community and at all age ranges. Between 2011-2015, 50 anglers tragically lost their lives while fishing around the UK coastline*.
Sadly, expert evidence from Professor Mike Tipton of Portsmouth University (2012) suggests that many of those lives might have been saved if the anglers had been wearing lifejackets.
If you are ill prepared and don’t know what to do things if things go wrong a nice day out can very easily turn into a nightmare. Colm Plunkett was wearing a lifejacket and had a plan when he got into difficulty whilst out angling. Check out the video below:
Here is some top safety tips to help you keep safe:
Should I let someone know where I am going and what time I will be back? Always let someone know where you will be fishing and what time you will be back. This will assist search and rescue teams with an area to start searching should you not return on time.
2. Carry a calling for help device such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in a waterproof case so that you can call for help if you get into difficulty.
3. Always wear a lifejacket no matter what type of weather/conditions or locations you are angling from. If you end up in the water and you are wearing a lifejacket, you are four times more likely to survive (Professor Mike Tipton Portsmouth University) More information on which lifejacket to wear – RNLI
5. What is ‘Float to Live’ – If you end up in the water, the RNLI recommend that you float on your back until you get your breath back. More information on Float to Live
6. Who Do I call in a coastal emergency at the coast? If you see an animal or person who you think is in difficulty in the water or at the coast phone ‘999’ or ‘112’ straightaway and ask for the Coastguard. Getting the right equipment and the correct rescue teams mobilised to the scene will have a significant impact on the outcome of the incident.
7. What is SafeTrx? Many anglers, divers, kayakers, open water swimmers and sailors are downloading the free SafeTrx mobile phone app which charts your passage and alerts an emergency contact if you fail to report in at an allocated time. Open water swimmers and divers are registering themselves as the ‘craft’ and will also notify the HM Coasguard if someone is late reporting in.
8. What clothing and kit should I pack for a fishing trip. Wearing a lifejacket will improve your chances by up four times if you end up in the water. Wearing crotch straps will also have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your lifejacket if you end up in the water. Why not check out the Henry Gilbey video below:
9. Is it better to take a mate along when I go fishing? There is always someone to share those great angling stories with over a cuppa or a bite to eat afterwards. Having a mate with you also ensures that there is someone to call for help if you get into difficulty.
10. Should I check tides and weather before I go fishing. It may seem obvious to check the tide times and weather forecast, but a recent lifeboat launch rescued two anglers who had been caught out by the tide. There are plenty of mobile device app’s which are free to download and use to show tide times and weather forecasts.
11. I have heard of Personal Locator Beacons, but what do they do? A PLB will increase the chances of search and rescue teams locating you quickly if you end up in the water in difficulty. There are plenty of examples of where sailors, kayakers and fishermen who have ended up in the water and have activated their PLB which has saved their life. They need to be registered with your details with the HM Coastguard.
12. What COVID-19 Safety Precautions should I take when I go fishing?
Drop us a DM on Facebook or Instagram if you would like your lifejackets checked for free or an ‘Advice on Board’ session (free check of your boat or craft to help you with safety). Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety protocols we have had to suspend our lifejacket and Advice on Board sessions until further notice. However, we are happy to provide one-to-one advice over a virtual conference call.
*RNLI analysis of WAID UK fatalities accidental and natural causes only 2011-15 coastal data set
Have you heard of ‘What 3 Words‘? You may have already downloaded the app? Emergency Service personnel around the country are raving about how important and vital this app is.
But, what exactly is it? Using three-word addresses it gives callers a simplified method to describe exactly where assistance is required and allows emergency services to despatch their asset (fire appliance, ambulance, Coastguard, Search and Rescue team, police vehicle etc) straight to the scene of the incident. Wasting valuable time trying to locate a person who is in urgent need of help could result in literally life or death.
‘What3words‘ is a British company who have divided the globe into three metres by three metre squares and given each square a unique three word address for example – ///prove.bids.deny, will take you to Ramsgate Lifeboat Station.
The app is free to download for Apple and Android or by browser and works offline. Hence making it ideal for use in rural or remote areas and where there is inconsistent data coverage. The three word format is also available worldwide and in twenty six different languages.
You may argue that the UK is already covered by the postcode system and street names are prominent in the majority of areas. However, some postcodes cover a wide area and the same street name may crop up several times in one town or city.
Emergency Service call handlers can send people who ring them an SMS message that contains a link to the what3words map, where they can see their location and immediately read the corresponding three-word address. BT, EE and Plus Net mobile customers can find their what3words address without using any of their data via a link the emergency call handler will send them during the call.
What 3 Words can be effective for emergency calls in sparseley populated locations such as at the beach, coastal areas, moors or farmland where it can be very challenging to communicate a location without any address or points of reference nearby.
One Fire Service call handler told us that she quite often has callers in a rural area describe their location by the colour of farm gates or the name of the farmer believing that they were speaking with the nearest fire station.
This new innovative location technology will help get help quickly to the correct location. Another example was the app was used to locate a group of walkers who got lost in a dense wood in County Durham during August.
Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words, said: “Being in need of urgent help and not being able to easily describe where you are can be very distressing for the person involved and a really difficult situation for emergency services. “Today, people nearly always have their phone on them. We need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services and potentially save lives.”
The app has also been adopted by groups and individuals to map treasure hunts and meeting places. As well as the serious nature of the app it can be good fun too. For example the front door to Downing Street is //slurs.this.shark
Save locations that you regularly walk or run
Why not find out the ‘what3words’ of nearby location’s where you go for a walk or run so you can save their locations in case you need them in the future.
Emergencies at the coast?
Coastguard Operation Rooms across the UK can access ‘What 3 Words’ as part of a suite of tools to locate those in distress. There isn’t always mobile phone coverage at sea, so carry a VHF radio or Personal Locator Beacon as well to call for help. The RNLI Operations Room at their headquarters in Poole have said….. “What3Words is a brilliant tool which can save lives particularly in area’s such as beaches where reference points are hard to find. We would always encourage use of established systems and would hope casualty reports are given using map/chart references whenever possible”….
We hope that you are looking forward to making the most of that extra hour in bed after the clocks went back marking the end of BST (British Summer Time) and reverting to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Of course that extra hour in bed in the morning results in the evenings getting darker earlier.
Walking, running or cycling home in the dark after a night out or a long shift you may decide to take a short cut to get home quicker which takes you close to open water.
Make sure you take care when walking past open water as what appears to be straight forward in the light can be totally confusing in the dark. Walkers and runners have the highest incidence of accidental drowning year on year.
The RLSS (Royal Lifesaving Society) indicate that from 2012-2016, 300 people unnecessarily lost their lives to drowning in the UK whilst running or walking by the water – that’s an average of 60 lives lost per year. An additional 35 people per year drowned while walking home intoxicated. Thirty nine percent of those accidental drownings took place at the coast, twenty five percent at a river and eleven percent at a canal.
Here are some top tips to help keep you safe whilst out walking or running during the winter months:
Be aware of your surroundings and take notice of any warning signs when out and about
When running or walking next to open water, stay well clear of bank edges and keep to paths
Always try and walk or run with a friend
Let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back
Carry a means of ‘calling for help’ such as a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case.
If you are at the coast check out the tide times and weather before you head out of the door
If you hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water, don’t enter the water dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard at the coast or on the River Thames; and for all other inland waterways ask for the Fire Service
Avon Fire and Rescue Service have highlighted the Stay Safe Around Water message by using the social media #MatesMatter and encouraging the sports team mantra of looking after the team. Our advice is to always check your mates have got home safely by messaging or phoning them. Your phone call could just save their life.
John Homer RNLI Community Safety Adviser says “winter time is still a great time to visit the coast, we have 19 miles of coastline in Thanet to explore, but taking a few precautions can really help prevent putting yourself and others in danger. Stay safe”.
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:
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.
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.
As a result of COVID-19 safety protocols our RNLI Community Safety Team is currently unable to deploy to deliver face2face water safety messaging and drowning prevention advice sessions. We have recently witnessed a significant increase in the number of visitors to UK beaches and coastline coupled with a reduced number of beaches that are able to be covered by lifeguards it is even more important to get water safety messaging out to as wide an audience as possible.
Our team is asking whether B&B’s, hotels, cafes, restaurants, councils, shops, pubs, bars and businesses selling beach goods across Thanet which are located alongside or close to coastal and beach areas can help us share the Beach Safety message – “Beach lifeguards Can’t Everywhere This Summer” by printing and displaying the poster (downloadable poster contained here and below); and having conversations with their customers and members of the public about knowing to call the Coastguard via ‘999’ should they see or hear someone in difficulty in the water.
Andy Mills from Thanet’s RNLI Community Safety Team said “we readily appreciate that this is a very busy time of the year for all coastal businesses who have also had extra challenges to cope with due to COVID-19, but we are asking them to do what they can to help us spread the safety message “Beach lifeguards can’t be everywhere this Summer – Protect Your Family, Follow Safety Advice, Save Lives – In An Emergency Dial ‘999’ for the Coastguard”.
Obviously, we don’t want to put anyone at risk and only pass on the message where it is safe to do so complying with the latest Government guidelines. We want everyone to have a fun time at the coast, but taking on board some safety advice before you visit could help you from getting into difficulty and putting yourselves and others in danger.
Volunteer lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams have tirelessly remained available 24/7 to respond to emergency calls from members of the public throughout COVID-19″.
Thank you for your help in sharing the safety messaging which is much appreciated.
On Sunday (15th March 2020) team members ran a lifejacket clinic at the Royal Temple Yacht Club, Ramsgate at the kind invitation of the Club Commodore.
Many of you will own a lifejacket or bouyancy aid (also known as a personal floatation device) or certainly have worn one in the past if you take part in any form of water based activity such as sailoring, off-shore angling, sea fishing, motor boating, paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking. Your lifejacket may help save your life one day, but only if you maintain it properly and wear it for your chosen activity.
You may have heard the term ‘useless unless worn’ in articles about safety whilst on the water, which is so true when considering what a such important part a lifejacket plays in your everyday safety drills. So, the clinic is all about helping to keep people safe by checking their lifejackets and giving out other advice to keep them safe whilst on the water.
Throughout the lifejacket clinic the team checked nineteen lifejackets in total and sixty eight per cent failed for a variety of reasons. Which included : corroded cylinders and out-of-date firing mechanism’s.
The RNLI recommend’s that the owner/skipper undertakes a thorough inspection of each and every lifejacket at least once a year – more often if the lifejacket is used frequently and to have the lifejacket serviced at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. We must point out that an inspection by an RNLI Community Safety Adviser is not the equivalent of a lifejacket service.
Here are our recommended basic checks which should be undertaken prior to every trip before donning the lifejacket:
Inspect the outside of the lifejacket for wear and tear
Even it is a lifejacket with an inspection window, undoe the jacket at the point next to the inflator
Check the gas cylinder is handtight, or if it’s a bayonet type firmly locked in position
If the lifejacket is new to you, remove the cylinder and check it has not been fired
Replace with a new cylinder if required
Look for the green indicators on the trigger and if fitted, on the automatic firing system
Keep spare cylinders and the replaceable parts for the automatic firing system on hand, so that if required the jacket can be re-armed. Alternatively, keep spare armed jackets aboard the vessel.
Lifejacket inspections can be undertaken during an advice on board session, at a lifejacket clinic (as at the Royal Temple Yacht Club) or ad-hoc when speaking with members of the public during our ‘walking the pontoons’ at Ramsgate Harbour. Just drop our team a private message on our Facebook page and we can organise a lifejacket check or Advice on Board session for you completely free of charge.
We would like to thank all the people who visited the lifejacket clinic and brought along their jackets to be checked. A big shout out also to Karen Cox (Ramsgate Lifeboat Press Officer) and the Royal Temple Yacht Club staff for making us very welcome and for facilitating our clinic.
Thanet’s proactive RNLI Community Safety Team enjoyed their annual curry night and awards evening at the Ramsgate Tandoori, Harbour Street on Friday evening (29th November). This was an excellent opportunity for team members to meet up in a relaxed atmosphere, reflect on the lifesaving and drowning prevention work undertaken during the past 12 months; and for the presentation of thank you certificates which this year were presented by the Worshipful Mayor of Ramsgate,Raushan Ara. Anumber of the team also hold other very busy volunteer roles in the community and being able to enjoy a night out is invaluable to team morale.
Andy Mills (Community Safety Officer) said “it is so important to thank and reward team members for their drowning prevention and water safety work which they carry out tirelessly throughout the year, helping the RNLI to reduce drowning at the coast. The work that has been carried out his year with regards the newly devised ‘walking the pontoons’ tactic, dog walkers and runners coastal safety and Swim Safe is absolutely first class”.
Our grateful thanks go to the Worshipful Mayor of Ramsgate, Raushan Ara, for taking the time out of her busy schedule to present the certificates to the team and the Mayor’s Town Sergeant Mac Wilkinson for his time.
On Monday (16th September) HM Coastguard Margate were tasked by the UK Coastguard along with RNLI Margate Inshore Lifeboat to reports of a person in the water by the Lido, Cliftonville. Arriving on scene Coastguard officers spotted an object in the water and once the lifeboat arrived it was quickly established that the object was an inflatable balloon possibly accompanied by a seal.
The balloon was removed from the water and taken back to the lifeboat, boat house.
The Deputy Station Officer for Margate Coastguard said “we cannot stress enough how bad these can be when they make it into the environment! Not only are they a danger to local wildlife but they can also cause issues for the emergency services. We will always attend reports of people in trouble but this could distract us from potential real life rescues. Please enjoy them but please do not let them off by the sea. Dispose of them sensibly when you have finished with them”.
Some may argue that visits to the coast or beach during the Autumn is even more pleasurable than the Summer, what with the cooler temperatures, fabulous sky lines, less crowds and also the opening up of beaches that can be explored without worrying about restrictions on dog walking. The lifeguard patrols have long since finished for the season, leaving beaches without that extra layer of surveillance and immediate highly trained help in times of need.
To enable you to enjoy the coast during the Autumnal months here is a run down on ten safety tips that you may like to consider. It is worthy to mention at this point that exploring the coast during stormy weather looks like great fun, but big waves and strong wind can easily knock you off your feet and place you in danger. The best place to observe stormy weather is often the inside of a nice coffee or tea shop with a cuppa and a cake.
Plan Ahead – check the tide times and weather forecast before you head out of the door. There are a variety of mobile device app’s which are free to download for your everyday use. If you aren’t technically minded some harbour offices and businesses stock paper tide times booklets which are available at a nominal cost. Local knowledge is always a good way of finding out whether it is safe to be venturing out to the coast.
2. Download the SafeTrx App
Many walkers, open water swimmers, off-rock anglers and divers have downloaded this app and use it regularly, which is absolutely free to down-load and use. More information on SafeTrx
If you hear or see a person or animal in difficulty in the water or at the coast dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ immediately and ask for the Coastguard. This will allow the correct equipment and trained personnel are mobilised to the scene as soon as possible.
5. If you end up in the water – what should you do?
RNLI advice is to float on your back until you get your breath back and then you can call for help by waving one arm and shouting towards the shoreline. More information on Float to Live.
6.Know what to do if you saw someone in difficulty in the water
If you are taking part in any form of water activity such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing etc always wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. More information on lifejacket safety
8. Tell someone what your plans are
Before you head out speak with a family member or friend and let them know what will be the latest time you will return and your route. This will help if you are overdue and HM Coastguard are alerted. Try downloading the SafeTrx App
9. Read and follow safety signs
Heed any safety signs that you may across on your coastal or beach trip. The information could help prevent getting involved in an incident which could have been avoided.
10. Wear the right clothing or equipment for the activity
Wearing the correct kit and or equipment for the activity you taking part in will definitely enable you make the day more enjoyable.
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.