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.
Tidal cut off is a significant cause of call outs for RNLI lifeboats and also to Coastguard Rescue Teams throughout the year. People are often unaware that they are in potential danger and are ill prepared.
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.
Dodging waves during sunny and calm weather can be great fun. However, on a stormy day just 15cm of water can knock you off your feet quite easily. What seems like fabulous fun to dodge waves that crash over harbour walls or onto a beach can easily lead to disaster during stormy weather conditions.
A big ‘Thank You’ to all our lovely followers and the fantastic people out there that help share our blogs on social media. This is hugely appreciated by our team and is essential to helping to get the drowning prevention and water safety messages out to as a wider audience as possible so that we can help prevent drownings and incidents at the coast.
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.
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”.
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.
Regularly at events we are asked what is the best way to check the tide times? There are a variety of websites and smart device app’s available which are free to download and use to check the tides. Shops, cafe’s and other harbour/marina establishments regularly stock paper copies of tide tables which are available for a nominal fee or a donation to the local lifeboat station. A special mention should be made of ‘Spring Tides’ at this point in the blog. Spring Tides can result in people getting easily cut-off by the incoming tide including places where there normally isn’t an issue. For more information go to our blog on different tides.
Some lifeboat station’s also display the tide times on their external notice board’s. Many lifeboat station’s, Coastguard teams and National Coastwatch station’s publish tide times and safety advice on a regular basis on their social media channels. Both Ramsgate and Margate lifeboat station’s publish tide times.
We have included anumber of websites and ap’s below to give you an idea which ones are available.
You maybe visiting the coast to enjoy a lovely walk with your friends or family, partake in some bird watching, go climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, swimming, surfing or just take in the sea from a cafe or coffee shop. Whatever activity you are taking part in why not remind yourself about some safety tips which could help save your life below:
Always carry a ‘calling for help device’ such as a fully charged mobile phone or VHF radio
If you are going out on your own tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
Wear the right clothing for the activity. If you are enjoying time on the water always wear a fully serviced lifejacket.
Check the weather forecast
If you get into difficulty dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard
Don’t enter the water if you get cut-off by the tide, call for help
Heed any warning signs that are displayed at the coast or on beaches
Be aware of your surroundings at all times as conditions can change quickly without warning
If you end up in the water Float On Your Back until you get your breath back – Float To Live
Ian Lockyer (RNLI Community Safety Advisor) says “we want everyone to enjoy the coast and get as much out of your visit as possible. But, making a few preparations and having a plan should things go wrong will help save your life”.
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
Always kite with another person
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.”
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.
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.
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
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:
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”.
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 has enjoyed a long history of lifeguard and lifesaving club’s along it’s coastline. Over the years some of it’s members have gone onto become RNLI lifeguards who help keep the beaches safe throughout the Summer months. This blog is designed to lift the lid on the area’s respective clubs and also to give the reader a better understanding on what it takes to become a beach lifeguard.
Two clubs currently exist one being the Thanet Lifeguard Club and secondly the Broadstairs Surf Lifesaving Club. Both clubs are very friendly, enjoy a varied programme of events throughout the year and have some of the most experienced and highly trained beach lifeguard/lifesaving instructors in the area. It is the Thanet Lifeguard Club that we shall focus the first blog in this series.
Thanet Lifeguard Club activities and history
Thanet Lifeguard Club which is affliated to the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) was formed in 1973, before then local swimming clubs supported lifesaving and Ramsgate had it’s own voluntary Lifeguard Corps that patrolled Ramsgate main sands and Western Undercliff during the summer months.
Fast forward to today, Thanet Lifeguard Club is multi-faceted, with its prime focus on learning survival/lifesaving skills and drowning prevention. Delivering a myriad of RLSS awards to age groups ranging from 7 yrs through to adults. The club run two weekly training sessions, Upton school for Rookie Lifeguards and Hartsdown Leisure Centre for Survive and Save programme, both incorporating dry and wet skills.
Educational Outreach Work
The club is proactive in its educational outreach work within the community. Delivering bespoke presentations and talks to wide audiences such as junior schools, cycling clubs and the Women’s Institute amongst others. The subject matter is also diverse including drowning prevention in all aquatic environments, personnel survival, life-support and the lifesaving sport.
Representing the club at Lifesaving Sport
The club has always been represented at all levels in Lifesaving Sport, both in the pool and open sea’s gaining a multitude of national medals over the years. Last year saw one its members compete on the Commonwealth stage.
What are the benefits of being a member?
The benefits of being a member of a lifesaving or lifeguard club are varied. Not only will you learn new lifesaving skills and knowledge, you will be also putting something back into the community by helping others learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and other emergency first aid.
You will also improve significantly your personal fitness by taking part in regular pool training sessions and fitness activity, participate in fun beach activities, meet a new group of people many of whom will become friends for life, develop team building skills, compete in competitions, get out into the fresh air on ‘wet’ coastal training sessions thereby increasing your allround wellbeing; and give you skills which will help develop you for future careers or life experiences.
The club also helps facilitate lifesaving courses which enable candidates to apply to become RNLI qualified lifeguards and refresh their qualifications once qualified so that they can effectively perform operational duties across the RNLI Thanet and Swale footprint during Summer months.
Where is the club based?
The beach is where the club originated, over the years the club has had many homes and currently has it’s club house on Westbrook beach delivering courses, sporting activities and supporting safety.
One of the yearly events that the club has been actively supporting is the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ campaign. Club members join forces with other local community groups, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, the RNLI and HM Coastguard Margate. Whereby they share the drowning prevention message by visiting bars and clubs in Ramsgate and Margate speaking with bar staff, door supervisors and customers about the key safety messages: don’t walk home alone past open water and don’t enter the water after having an alcoholic drink.
Thanet Lifeguard Club is looking to the future to develop a sustainable teaching framework and a committee with a sustaining legacy to take the club forward. New initiatives and ideas are always being introduced which show the enthusiasm of its members to reach out and embrace the community.
Are you interested in supporting the Club?
Thanet Lifeguard Club is wholly voluntary and self-funding. If you are an individual or an organisation who maybe interested in supporting the club and it’s objectives, please contact: Neil Morgan via email: email@example.com for an informal chat.
Beach Lifeguard courses – National Vocational Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ)
The course is a minimum of 40 hours long followed by a practical assessment on beach theory, life support, first aid, swimming pool practical and open water practical. Upon qualifying with the NVBLQ, the certificate is valid for two years from the date of successful completion.
The NVBLQ is internationally recognised, so potential to work and travel
Work within a team
Great way for students to fund studies
Learn essential life skills, including First Aid and CPR
Be 16-years-old or over at the time of the assessment
Have a good level of fitness
Surface dive to a depth of 1.5 metres
Tread water for two minutes
Climb out of deep water unaided and without steps
Be competent at swimming in the sea
Before the course, candidates must be able to swim at least 200 metres in a pool (of recommended length 25 metres, but no less than 20 metres) in five minutes or less
For the assessment, candidates must be able to swim 400 metres in a pool (recommended 25 metres, but no less than 20 metres) in eight minutes or less using a continuous front stroke and showing urgency
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