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.
Many apologies for the delay in writing another blog post, but some of our team are key workers and have been pretty busy in their day job working to help protect the public from COVID-19.
We hope that everyone is keeping safe and well; and looking after your loved ones where possible! These continue to be challenging times, with everyone having to adapt to new ways of living and going about their daily business. It won’t have escaped your notice, but there have been some ingenius ways of coping with life whilst staying at home.
A plethora of community based support groups have sprung up, not to mention the growing popularity of virtual entertainment social media channels offering everything from cooking classes, children’s activities, schooling, fitness groups, dancing, pub quiz’s, drama and music sessions to name a few. The RNLI are running their own ‘Water Safety Wednesday for children each week via their Facebook page.
As you will be aware the RNLI announced that all their stations, shops and engagement activity will be suspended until further notice follwing advice from HM Government. This includes our drowning prevention work and water safety activity. Rest assured RNLI Crews, maintenance engineers, the supply team and HM Coastguard teams are continuing to provide an operational emergency service 24/7.
Duty Crew System – Lifeboat Station’s
I read this morning on one station’s social media page that they had introduced a ‘duty crew’ system: reducing the number of crew that respond to the pager launch request from the Coastguard so the risk of cross contaimination is reduced.
Simply, crews will be split into teams or ‘watches’ with the appropriate number of women/men with key skills: eg launch authority, coxswain, helmsmen, mechanic, navigator, tractor driver, or head launcher allocated to each team to provide the operational readiness. Other safety measures will have been introduced at other stations to help mitigate risks where possible, but ensuring the lifeboat(s) and crews are able to maintain their search and rescue capability.
Minimising the risk to yourself and family
In line with the Government’s guidance on minimising the risk to yourself, family and others the Coastguard have said that visits to the beach should only be undertaken by those who live close to them. If you do live close to coast please observe the government’s instructions which are available via the Public Health England site and maintain the 2 metre social distance if you meet anyone on your walk, run or cycle.
Pete Mizen, assistant director for HM Coastguard, said: “The rules are very simple. The risk of spreading coronavirus is huge and while you might be OK, the person you give it to may not.
“And if you get into trouble and have to call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard, you’re then putting frontline emergency responders at risk of Covid-19 too. At this time of the year the beaches aren’t lifeguarded which is a double risk to you and our emergency responders. Help us to help you.”
RNLI – Pausing Beach Lifeguard Patrols
You may also have read that the RNLI are “immediately pausing” lifeguard patrols at beaches, and other public organisations such as councils and tourist groups have also taken steps to try to deter people from visiting.
I am sure that you will all join our team in thanking all the key workers who are keeping the country going, protecting us, maintaining our emergency services and making sure we have got the essential supplies to keep everyone healthy and well. So, whichever organisation, health service, company, charity, volunteer group or agency you work or volunteer for thank you very much for everything you are doing!
Rest assured our team are still working to share water safety and drowning prevention information via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms. If you do hear or see an animal or person who is in difficulty in the water at the coast dial ‘999’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard.
Please stay safe and thank you very much for reading.
Other useful links (to help you keep safe if you live close to the coast)
The RNLI Thanet Community Safety Team were invited by the Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic Province of East Kent, Right Worshipful Brother Neil Hamilton Johnston to the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity Award Presentations at the Cathedral Lodge at Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 16th November. We were among several other worthy charities from around the county who each received generous donations from this charitable organisation. The RNLI Thanet Community Safety team are very grateful as the donation contribute towards the Swim Safe Scheme, which this year allowed 1,008 children to have swimming lessons at Margate Beach.
During the ceremony, 16 charities gave presentations about the good works that they each did. John Homer from our team gave a presentation about Swim Safe, how it was delivered and how important the charitable contribution was to the welfare and confidence of each child taking part.
Andy Mills, RNLI Thanet Community Safety Officer said, ‘Swim Safe is a fantastic programme that helps to keep children safe. It gives each child greater awareness of how to enjoy the sea safely. It’s an integral part of our Community Safety plan.’
He added, ‘Since its inception last year it has grown from 500 children taking part to 1,008 this year. Nationally 22,000 young people took part in a Swim Safe session this Summer. Without the generous support of organisations like the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity, we would not be able to deliver these sessions …so from everyone on our team…thank you so much.’
Picture shows John Homer (Left), Ian Lockyer (right) (RNLI Thanet Community Safety Team) with Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic Province of East Kent, Right Worshipful Brother Neil Hamilton Johnston (Middle)
The Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons Charity website is currently in development, but you can find out contact details for the charity there: http://cornwallisekfc.org.uk/
This weekend (31st Aug and 1st Sept) sees the last two days that lifeguards will be patrolling Thanet’s beaches before they shut down for the winter period. If you are thinking of making the most of the last weekend before the children go back to school or perhaps grabbing that last minute break to the coast then here are some top tips to help keep you and your family safe:
Visit a lifeguarded beach and chat to the lifeguard for essential safety information
2. Know your beach flags and take on board the advice
3. Read any warning signs when you arrive at the beach and heed the advice at all times
4. Rip currents are powerful currents of water moving away from the shore.
Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
Always raise your hand and shout for help.
5. Always carry a ‘calling for help device’ whatever activity you are undertaking so that you can summon help straight away as every second counts.
6. If you fall into the water unexpectedly or get into difficulty in the water float for your life
8. If you should hear or see an animal or person in the water in difficulty, don’t go in after them call ‘999’ or 112′ and ask for the Coastguard at the Coast. If there is any rescue equipment nearby such as a throwline or life buoy try to throw this to the person in the water without putting yourself in danger. More information on what to do if you saw someone in difficulty in the water
9. Whatever water related activity you are taking part in always wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. Lifejackets are useless unless worn!
10. Do you remember the 5 top tips to help keep your children safe at the beach? The above is a reminder.
We look forward to seeing the lifeguards patrolling the beaches again next Summer.
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.
During the Summer months our team have been visiting Thanet beaches chatting to beach visitors about coastal safety and how to ‘float to live’ as part of our on-going lifesaving interventions.
One of the topics that we also chat about is that of child safety whilst on the beach and inparticular issuing water proof wrist band which can carry the parents/guardian’s mobile telephone contact number. Everyone we speak to really like the scheme and take one of the wrist bands for their child. If our team are not on the beach you can obtain one of the wrist bands from most lifeguarded beaches.
The diagram above is a good reminder of some of the top safety tips for families whilst enjoying the beach.
Welcome to our ultimate guide to finding a lifeguarded beach in Thanet. Before we run through the lifeguarded beaches we thought we would refresh you on the Top 10 Safety Tips which should consider when visiting the beach:
Do you remember what the beach safety flags stand for?
Red and white Prohibition sign – Do not enter the water at any time. Swimming and other water-related activities are not permitted.
2. Always swim and body board between the red and yellow flags on a lifeguarded beach
3. Never swim alone, always take a friend or family member
4. Always read and obey the safety signs, usually found at the beach entrance. These will help you avoid potential hazards on the beach and identify the safest areas for swimming.
5. Should you get into difficulty float on your back (‘Float to Live’), once you have got your breath back, stick your hand in the air and shout for help (international distress signal).
6. If you see someone in difficulty, don’t attempt a rescue. Alert a lifeguard straight away, or, if you can’t see a lifeguard, call ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard.
7. Inflatable Safety – Inflatables are designed for pools and not the sea where they can easily be swept out. If you do use them at the beach, check out our blog to help keep you safe
8. Know about Cold Water Shock and how it can affect you. More information check out the video below:
You may have travelled to the beach for a lovely day. After you are finally ensconced and you and your family have started enjoying the surroundings, before you know it will be time to grab some lunch. Coming prepared with a few items is always a good move that can be stored until you want to eat. Especially when you have a young family who need fuelling up after some energetic beach activity. Packing a picnic for the beach is not like packing one for a countryside picnic as there is the sand and wind to contend with and some foods hold up better than others.
We have come up with a few ideas on what some of our team include in their family beach picnic’s.
Sausage rolls (vege or meat)
Cocktail sausages (vege or meat)
Tuna baguettes or wraps
Variety of crisps or peanuts
Humous and or other dips
Carrotts and cucumber sliced for dipping
Cookies or small cakes
Here’s a quick reminder about beach flags and the Water Safety Code:
We hope you have a great time at the beach and enjoy your picnic.
We are stoked that Swim Safe in Margate is starting on 22nd July. ➡️Still a few spaces available to book.⬅️ Once they’ve gone they gone😀 A fantastic opportunity for children aged 7-14 years to receive FREE swimming lessons in the sea by some fantastic swimming teachers with years of experience and stacks of knowledge. Make sure you book yours before it’s too late. Please share amongst family, friends and work colleagues. 🏊♀️🏊♂️
Over the past week has seen our team busy preparing for the start of the Summer. We have been out and about carrying out visits to businesses and local organisations, building new relationships and refreshing others, whereby they can help spread our key safety messages to their customer base. One of these new exciting relationships is with Ride Cycle Hire, Margate. They are situated at Margate Railway Station and hire out cycles to people who want to explore the lovely coastal routes around East Kent. Ride Cycle Hire have agreed to hand out our safety leaflets, stickers and badges with every bike hiring.
A second example of a newly formed relationship is with Jet Ski World, based in Palm Bay, Margate. They run a personal water craft centre, which is particularly busy at weekends and during school holidays. We are looking at running an engagement briefing with one of our RNLI qualified personal water craft instructors in the near future. Stay tuned to our website for more details.
Our third key meeting was with one of the new Beach Inspectors, Sharon, for Viking Bay, Broadstairs. The Beach Inspector is absolutely pivotal in helping us get our safety messages out to beach users. The Beach Inspector is employed by the Your Leisure team. Viking Bay, is one of the busiest beaches in Thanet and attracts a large number of visitors during the Summer holiday period. The Beach Inspector will be working in partnership with our RNLI lifeguards who will be on duty from the end of May onwards.
A big thank you to Ride Cycle Hire, Jet Ski World and Sharon the Beach Inspector for their time this week. By continuing to build and sustain these relationships with trusted local businesses, organisations and individuals we are striving to help make Thanet’s coastline a safer place to visit and enjoy.
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