Thanet RNLI Community Safety

New Year Resolutions – Some Lifesaving Purchase Ideas For The January Sales – Help Improve Your Safety On The Water

January is traditionally the time to make those New Year resolutions, whether it is ‘Dry January’ (that is abstaining from alcohol consumption), a new diet, fitness regime, learn a new language, change career/job, or learning something new to help improve yourself.  Whatever you decide to tackle then we wish you the best of luck.  It’s not easy taking on a new challenge, but whatever you try just keep going.  There will be days that you will not feel like it, but stick with it and you will be surprised that little steps can make a big difference.   Everyone has their own challenges and what one person takes for granted can be another person’s goal or massive achievement.  During the COVID-19 pandemic many people have seized the opportunity to learn something new, take up a new hobby or taken an on-line course which we applaud!

 

For those of you who enjoy a water sport then January maybe the ideal opportunity to help improve their safety out on the water.  Here are some ideas:

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Lifejackets

Lifejackets or personal floatation devices (PFD’s) are essential pieces of lifesaving kit which should be regularly serviced and worn at all times.  Checking your lifejacket and getting it serviced is always a good start to the new year and maybe replacing one that you may have had for a long time taking advantage of the January sales at the Chandlers is always a good move.  Whether you are a sailor, off-shore angler, kayaker, canoeist or paddle boarder a lifejacket or personal floatation device is a must for all sea and weather conditions.

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Open Water Swimming

Open water or cold water swimming has really taken off in the past couple of years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A brightly coloured swim hat and tow float are good purchases if you are intending on taking up this fabulous pastime in the New Year.  Joining a club or signing up for some swimming lesson (when COVID-19 regulations permit) is also an excellent way of enjoying your new hobby.  Swimming with a buddy, friend or club members is great fun, but also fabulous for safety as everyone will be looking out for each other.

Why not check out our previous post on some open water swimming safety tips.

 

VHF radio’s and courses

The preferred means of communication when out on the water is a VHF radio.  They are a relatively inexpensive piece of kit to purchase, relatively simple to use under pressure in a life threatening situation, water proof, can deliver a recognised method of calling for assistance via channel 16, if you purchase one with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) a predefined automatic signal of your position will be transmitted in an emergency situation if you depress the DSC button;  and has a better range of reception (often close to the shoreline a mobile phone can’t get a signal).

Once purchased you will need to attend and pass a radio course to teach you how to use it and it’s functions. The RYA run a wealth of radio courses across the UK and more and more are being offered with an on-line element.

 

Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s)

These have really come down in price recently and are a highly recommended piece of safety kit which need to be registered with the HM Coastguard and your details update if you change address.  Canoeists, kayakers, divers, paddle boarders. PLB’s have also drawn popularity in mountain biking, hiking and climbing circles enabling these sporting enthusiasts in remote locations to have a means of calling for help which can pinpoint their position and where there is no mobile phone signal.

 

Training or lessons

If you are just starting out in your new water sport or igniting an old passion then finding an approved instructor or subscribing to some lessons at a local club will be a good move to help you learn the basic’s, safety drills or refresh on some previously learnt techniques.  Each sport will have their own approved instructors or schools which have been independently assessed for their specialist knowledge of the sport, safety aspects, equipment and insurance.  A quick search of the relevant sport’s governing body will provide a list of approved instructing schools and qualified coaches.  A phone call, email or private message on social media will help you answer any questions you may have.

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Mobile Phone Water Proof Pouch

Carrying a means of ‘calling for help’ is essential whatever water sport you enjoy whether it’s at the coast or on inland water.  The handheld VHF radio is our recommended ‘calling for help’ device, however, a fully charged mobile in a water proof pouch is also a viable option for calling for help.    Being able to call for help if you get into difficulty or you see someone else in trouble is essential.   Mobile phone pouch’s are relatively inexpensive to purchase via the internet or water sport retail outlets.

 

Internet for useful resources

The internet contains a whole host of valuable resources which can help increase your knowledge and safety whilst having at the same time enabling you to have a great time whilst on the water.  Always ensure that your sources are the approved governing bodyclub or association for the relevant sport eg RYA, British Canoeing, British Kitesports Association etc.

Thank you for reading a stay safe out there!

 

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard

RYA

British Canoeing

Why Should You Be Extra Specially Careful This Year If You Are Thinking Of Taking A Festive Dip

RNLI lifeboat stations, the RLSS (UK Royal Life Saving Society) and their affiliated lifesaving clubs, in common with many other charitable organisations, have cancelled their very popular festive swimming events due to COVID-19 safety considerations. Also taking into account the responsibility to ensure that  blue light emergency services are not called out needlessly and the impact on the National Health Service is managed.

 

The RNLI and RLSS  are urging anyone who does venture into the sea or other open water locations over the Christmas and New Year period to be aware of the risks and enjoy themselves as safely as possible.

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Margate’s Mersey All Weather lifeboat Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have both been busy responding to incidents involving swimmers this winter.

Earlier in December the Portishead lifeboat crew rescued a swimmer who had been in the sea for 80 minutes, while Sunderland lifeboat pulled another to safety after spotting him in the rough conditions thanks to his bright orange swimming cap and tow float.

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Have Emergency call-outs to swimming related incidents increased?

HM Coastguard have reported a 79.8%* increase in emergency call-outs for swimming related incidents year-on-year between January and November, compared to the same period in 2019.

Lee Heard, RLSS UK – Director, said: ‘While festive dips are an increasingly popular tradition with brave bathers in plummeting temperatures, we are concerned that with the cancellation of well organised and lifeguarded events combined with a rise in open water swimming participation this year that individuals may still choose to dip this festive period.

 

‘We simply urge swimmers to stay safe, be prepared and consider their actions on our already stressed emergency services, including the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews.’

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Cold water shock is a very real danger for anyone entering water which is 15°C or below, with the average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland at this time of year just 6-10°C – which also poses a risk of hypothermia, even for the most experienced of open water swimmers.

RNLI Water Safety Partner Samantha Hughes said: ‘No one goes into the water in the expectation of needing to be rescued but we are asking anyone considering going for a festive dip to understand the dangers and not take unnecessary risks so they can have a good time, safely.

‘We recommend checking with your doctor before trying a cold water dip for the first time, especially if you have underlying health issues.

‘It is important to respect the water and there are a number of things you can do to help ensure you have an enjoyable and safe time such as not swimming alone, staying in your depth and knowing how to warm up properly afterwards which sounds obvious but is crucial to avoid any delayed effects of the cold and hypothermia.

 

‘The most important thing to remember is if you are in any doubt, stay out of the water and if you or anyone else does get into trouble in or on the water please call ‘999’ or ‘112’ immediately and ask for the Coastguard.’

 

What top safety tips should I follow if I intend going for a festive dip?
  • How can I be prepared? Check the weather forecast, tides and wave height
  • What should I take with me? Plenty of warm clothes for use pre and post dip. A nice hot drink in a flask such as soup, tea or maybe a hot chocolate will assist in warming you up afterwards.
  • What ‘calling for help device’ should I take : a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
  • Should I wear a wetsuit? Yes, this will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering from cold water shock
  • Should I go with a friend? If at all possible, if you can’t go to a familiar bathing spot and tell someone when you plan to be back
  • What happens if I jump straight into the water?  This could lead to cold water shock, walk in slowly. acclimatise slowly and wait until your breathing is under control before swimming
  • Should I wear a brightly coloured swim cap and consider using a tow float?  Yes, always wear one that is brightly coloured and a tow float is highly recommended.
  • How deep should I go? Know your limits and don’t stay in the water for more than 10 minutes
  • I have heard of ‘float to live’ what does it mean? – If you get into trouble lean back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing. This is what the RNLI call ‘Float to Live’.
  • What number and who do I call if I get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble?  Dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ immediately ask for the Coastguard giving as accurate location as possible
  • If I am in any doubt what should I do? There is always another day to go for a swim, if you have any doubts stay out of the water

Thank you for reading and stay safe!

 

Other useful links

Professor Mike Tipton – How to survive cold water shock

Sign-up to our newsletter

Ant Middleton – cold water shock

Demystifying rip currents

Margate Lifeboat

Ramsgate Lifeboat

Acknowledgements

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

HM Coastguard (HMCG)

Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS)

Professor Mike Tipton – Portsmouth University