Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Why We Are Asking People Not To Set Off Flares And Sky Lanterns & On Bonfire Night – 5th November 2020

We hope everyone is keeping safe and well!

We are aware sky lanterns (sometimes referred to as Chinese lanterns which are often used in birthday and weddings celebrations) are being advertised as an alternative to attending the traditional bonfire night gatherings/parties due to COVID-19 government lockdown restrictions.  The sky lanterns are often set off on or close to bonfire night 5th November.

What are Sky Lanterns and why are they hazardous to animals

The paper lanterns are small hot air balloons, powered by a flame suspended on a wire frame which represents a significant fire risk to life, property, birds, livestock and agriculture when they come down to earth so should never be used.

 

Cause of fires

In 2013 CCTV footage proved a sky lantern to be the cause of a fire at a recycling plant in the West Midlands. More than 200 firefighters and 39 fire appliances were deployed over several days to tackle the blaze involving plastics and paper.

 

Unnecessary Calls-Out’s for Lifeboat Crews and Coastguard Teams

Near the coast they may also be mistaken for distress flares causing unnecessary searches by our lifeboat and coastguard team colleagues. However, both search and rescue organisations are still ready to respond to genuine incidents, but do not need unavoidable calls putting their own and other lives at risk at this time.  Remember: What goes up must come down. If you do plan on releasing these lanterns near the coast, let the Coastguard know when and where.  As an alternative you could consider purchasing:

  • stationary candles and nightlights
  • static lanterns or outdoor lights
  • or planting a tree in memory of a loved one

 

Flares

Flares are a critical piece of sea safety kit, it is illegal to fire them in non-distress situation.  Every year lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams are called out to the sighting of flares out at sea or coast.  Flares are designed to be fired over water. If fired over land they can cause serious fires.  Bonfire Night can be a big night for unnecessary call-outs. Flares and lanterns are easily mistaken for distress signals and each sighting of a flare or lantern has to be investigated fully. This could divert search and rescue assets (lifeboats and Coastguard Rescue Teams) away from genuine emergency situation and can mean an exhaustive search in challenging conditions putting volunteers at further risk.

 

Thank you for reading, and from all of our team take care and stay safe!

 

Other useful references

How to sign-up to our monthly newsletter

How to dispose of out-of-date flares?

What’s the difference between the RNLI and HM Coastguard?

Still want to help support the RNLI during COVID19?

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard

RSPCA

Wildlife Conservation Trust Thanet

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

Lifting The Lid On Thanet’s Lifeguard and Lifesaving Clubs – Part II Broadstairs Surf Lifesaving Club

Part II in our series on Thanet’s Lifeguard and Lifesaving Club’s focuses on the fabulous Broadstairs Surf Lifesaving Club.

Broadstairs Surf Life Saving Club (BSLSC) was founded in 2013 and is affiliated with the national organisation Surf Life Saving GB a charity of over 5,000 volunteers helping to make our beaches a safer and a more enjoyable place for everyone.

Regular Training Sessions

The club holds regular immersive training sessions on Viking Bay and other Thanet beaches. Pool sessions are also held during the winter months at local leisure centre’s. Why not check out the clubs training calendar to find out their next training night.

The club is all about learning and maintaining lifesaving skills and enjoying regular land and water based training on Thanet’s beautiful beaches and in the sea around the coastline.   The club provides great opportunities to stay fit, meet new friends, compete in competitions, learn new lifesaving skills and also allow you to put something back into the community.

New Members Welcome!

New members from experienced lifeguards to complete beginners are very welcome and the club offers fitness and lifeguard skills training to a wide age range.  The club is very friendly and has some of the most experienced and qualified instructors in the area.

Training in partnership with RNLI Lifeguard’s

The club provide’s lifeguard training in partnership with Surf Life Saving GB and also working closely with the Thanet RNLI Lifeguard Unit. They also aim to provide both aquatic and first aid support to the local community.

The club’s mission statement

  • To offer club members the opportunity to keep fit through Life Saving Sport, increasing skill levels and equipping members to deal with emergency situations
  • Offer enjoyable training and education to club members in surf lifesaving skills with links to nationally recognised awards and qualifications which can help lead to a occupation in lifeguarding.

National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ)

From time to time the club runs the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ). The course is designed to provide the learner with an introduction to all elements of beach lifeguard theory, cardiopulmonary resucitation (CPR), first aid, pool and open water skills.
The course is physically demanding and requires swimming to set times and lifting casualities in simulated rescue scenairo’s.  The NVBLQ comprises a variety of units and all must be successfully passed to attain the qualification.
Pre-requisites:
  • Be 16 on the assessment day.
  • Be able to swim a measured distance of 200 metres in a pool of recommended length 25 metres, minimum 20 metres, within 5 minutes.
  • On enrolment, the candidate must be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Trainer, that by the end of the course they will be capable of achieving a swim time of 400m in under 8 minutes.
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Units to be covered:
  • Beach Environment
  • Beach Patrolling
  • Working Practices
  • Communications
  • Basic Life Support
  • First Aid
  • Pool Based Practical
  • Foundation Tube Rescuer
  • Foundation Ocean Board Rescuer
When the club runs it’s NVBLQ course, the timetable will usually run daily between 8am – 6pm (subject to change). The course will involve a mixutre of training in the sea, beach, pool and classroom.
Each candidate will receive further joining instructions and information once allocated a space on a course. Previous courses have been advertised via the club’s social media platforms and booking can be completed via Eventbrite.  Successful com[pletion of the NVBLQ does not guarantee paid work with the RNLI Beach Lifeguard service, but it is one of the required qualifications to then be able to apply for a role within the RNLI.  For more information on the next course drop the club an email: broadstairs.slsc@gmail.com
RNLIcommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety RNLIseasafety Respectthewater Thanetlifeguards RLSS margatelifeboat ramsgatelifeboat

We would like to wish all members of the Broadstairs Lifesaving Club all the best for the forthcoming season of training, competitions and lifeguard courses and we hope to see you on the beach in the near future.

Other useful links

Broadstairs Surf Lifesaving Club

Apply to be an RNLI Lifeguard

Thanet Lifeguard Club

Learn how to ‘float to live’

Acknowledgments

The Instructors and members of Broadstairs Surf Lifesaving Club

Surf lifesaving GB

RNLI

HM Coastguard