Coastal Lockdown Water Safety – How To Help Keep You and Your Family Safe

RNLI Volunteers and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams remain on-call, ready to help others during lockdown.  However, we urge everyone to think carefully about using the sea for exercise or recreation incase you get into difficulty.

When RNLI volunteer crews and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams are called out to an incident it puts additional pressure on them and other blue light emergency services, as well as potentially exposing them to COVID-19.  Please take care and follow government instructions: stay home, protest the NHS and save lives.

It is therefore even more imperative to take precautions if you are live close to the coast and you visit.  Cold water shock is an ever present danger in the UK’s coastal water’s.  The RNLI state that “anything below 15°C is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement, so the risk is significant most of the year.  Average UK and Ireland sea temperatures are just 12°C. Rivers such as the Thames are colder – even in the summer.

“The sudden cooling of the skin by cold water also causes an involuntary gasp for breath. Breathing rates can change uncontrollably, sometimes increasing as much as tenfold. All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic, increasing the chance of inhaling water directly into the lungs.

This can all happen very quickly: it only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs for a fully grown man to start drowning. You could die if you don’t get medical care immediately”.

You may remember the story of Ravi the 10-year old boy from August in Skegness. Who remembered the ‘Float to Live’ technique which he had seen on the television programme ‘Saving Lives At Sea’ which ultimately helped save his own life.

If you enter the water unexpectedly follow this drill:

  • 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.

The Water Safety Code which is jointly supported by the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and RLSS (Royal Lifesaving Society) which is included below should be followed:

Thanet is very lucky to have some fabulous coastline, charming sandy beaches and fantastic places to visit.  If you are luckily enough to live to the coast here’s some tips on how to keep you and your family/friends safe should things go wrong.

  • Carry a fully charged mobile phone
  • Check the weather and tide times before you venture out
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will return
  • Go with a friend if possible
  • Keep back from cliff edges, harbour walls and marina’s (no selfie is worth the risk)
  • Wear the right clothing and equipment for the activity
  • Read and heed local warning signs often positioned at the entrance to beaches
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times as it is easy to get distracted
  • If you unexpectedly enter the water float on your back and resist the urge to thrash around
  • If you hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water, don’t enter the water, dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard and give an accurate location

Thank you for reading stay safe!

Useful links: 

Can I suffer from cold water shock?

Know to to call in a coastal emergency

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Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

Royal Lifesaving Society

Margate LPO