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.
Our team are regularly asked at events who to call in the event of someone finding legacy military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic (flare) on the beach or in the sea. Amongst some of the HM Coastguard’s multifaceted roles includes investigating objects which have been washed up onto the coastline which may present a danger to coastal users.
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.
We have seen Kayaking grow in popularity, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, either out at the coast or on our fabulous inland water ways. There is nothing like getting out on the water in a kayak and it is absolutely great fun.
Metal detecting has been around for many years and is increasing in popularity. Whether you have a passion for history or treasure hunting it is a great way to keep fit, improve your wellbeing by being outside in the fresh air, discover history and meet new friends.
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.
Have you ever wanted to be able to give immediate care to mammals when they are washed up onto the shore in your local area or who maybe in distress? Have you heard of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR)?
Our team are passionately committed to reducing drowning and sharing water safety messages to all communities far and wide. Working inconjunction with partner agenices and community groups the spread of the messages is much wider and more powerful. For example we enjoy working with local businesses, local charities, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent Police, Kent Search and Rescue, Community Wardens, Community Pastors and HM Coastguard to promote water safety at events to name a few.
If you are a regular follower of our social media channels and preventative work you will have seen that we are actively involved in supporting other water safety organisations campaigns to help prevent and reduce drownings. Here is a run down on the campaigns we get involved in:
Respect the water is the RNLI water safety campaign which runs throughout the year, but is relaunched during May to highlight water safety risks, how to avoid them and gives advice on how to stay safe. More information on Respect the Water campaign
‘Be Beach Safe’
During Summer 2020, the RNLI in collaboration with the HM Coastguard ran the ‘Be Beach Safe’ campaign, designed to share key beach safety messages. Due to the travel restrictions imposed during lock-down the coast and beach saw a significant increase in visitor numbers. The ‘Be Beach Safe’ campaign was even more important during this period and continues to be shared far and wide.
Also, during the Summer of 2020, the RNLI initiated an Ambassador scheme, where organisations and businesses close to the coastline could sign-up and help share key water safety messages. This also included calling the Coastguard via ‘999’ for any coastal emergency and displaying posters in their premises or venues. During the 2020/21 the RNLI partnered with the HM Coastguard to share the Be Coast Safe safety message. This is increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown that this message is shared as widely as possible with an increase in the number of people taking their daily exercise at the coast.
What is the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign?
The Royal Lifesaving Society’s (RLSS) Don’t Drink and Drown campaign is run during September and December targeting University students and those enjoying their works Christmas parties. The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign highlights the dangers of walking home close to open water after a night out. More information on the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign
Are Runners and Walkers at risk of drowning?
In 2019, our team were involved in promoting the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) Runners and Walkers water safety campaign at the beginning of November by holding a water safety stand at the fabulous Pegwell Bay Park Run. You may have come across the NFCC water safety campaigns called ‘Be Water Aware’. More information on this campaign
What is Swim Safe?
For the past two years we have helped raise funds and promote the Swim Safe programme which comprises free sea swimming and safety lessons for children aged 7-14 years held on Margate main sands. More information on Swim Safe
What is the Know Who To Call campaign?
Throughout the year we help promote the work of the HM Coastguard more specifically the ‘Know Who To call’ in a coastal emergency campaign. This is a vitally important message to get across as over half the people we speak with at events don’t know to call the Coastguard via ‘999’ for any emergency at the coast or on the River Thames.
‘Be Water Aware’ – who has pioneered this campaign?
The National Fire Chief’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign is supported annually by the team. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the risk of accidental drowning using Fire and Rescue Services’ across the UK. More information on the ‘Be Water Aware’ campaign.
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”….
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