Water Safety Advice During Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

You will all be aware of the requirement stipulated by the government about keeping more than 2 metres from other people when out and about; and avoiding non-essential contact with others particularly if you are from one of the vulnerable or at risk groups.

Given this advice it is suggested that it is likely that our coastal areas and beaches may see an increase in visitors in the forthcoming week’s particularly as they are fabulous locations to relax, grab fresh air and physical exercise whilst abiding by the government’s social distancing safety advice.

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As you will know the lovely coastal areas and beaches can present their own risks and dangers. Lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams are regularly called to people who have put themselves in danger.  Even during the COVID-19 outbreak RNLI Lifeboat crews, Lifeboat Maintenance Engineers and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams remain on-call and operational for call-outs 24/7.

You maybe a sailor, motor boater, off-shore angler, commercial fishermen, paddle boarder, dog walker, kayaker or canoeist, surfer, open water swimmer or just enjoy a stroll along the beach.

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It is even more important than ever that you take extra responsibility and avoid taking unncessary risks to yourself and others which could put pressure unnecessarily on front line search and rescue services.

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Here is a guide to some of the RNLI’s safety tips if you are visiting the coast and also applicable to visiting any stretch of inland open water:

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1.  Take care when walking near to cliff edges  – know your route and don’t take short cuts when the day light starts to dwindle

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2.  Check tide times and weather conditions before you set out

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3.  Tell someone where you are going (route plan) and the latest time that you are expected to return. This will give Search and Rescue Services a start if they need to initiate a search plan.  Why not download the free SafeTrx App or What3Words?

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4.  Wear the right kit for the activity eg lifejacket if you are going afloat and correct clothing for a coastal stroll

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5.  Carry a means of ‘calling for help’ such as a fully charged mobile phone in a water proof case, VHF radio and or flares if going afloat

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6.  Check that your equipment is in good working order

stormyweather RNLI RNLICommunitysafetyteam seasafety knowwhotocall coastguard harbours marinas beaches ramsgatelifeboat dungenesslifeboat whitstablelifeboat lifeguards margatelifeboat7.  Be aware of the conditions, check via a weather app. Know your limitations and capabilities and only enter the water if safe to do so.

respectthewater RLSS coldwatershock RNLI8.  If you hear or see an animal or person in the water in difficulty, don’t enter the water dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard straight away.  Try to throw something that floats to the person in the water, but not to put yourself at risk in doing so. Some coastal areas and rivers have lifebouys or throw line bags for use in the emergency.  For any inland water rescue ask for the Fire Service.

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9.   If you do find yourself in the water in difficulty follow the RNLI’s ‘float to Live’ safety drill and float on your back until you can get your breath back and call for help. Over half the people that drown never intended to end up in the water.

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10.  Always pay attention to local safety advice signs and heed the advice at all times.  Tides can easily creep up on your particularly when you are engrossed in something else.

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Thank you everyone and from all of our Community Safety Team stay safe!

Other useful references

Five things that you shouldn’t ignore about RNLI dog rescue’s

The top 10 lifejacket checks that could help save your life

Have you downloaded the ‘What3Words’ app yet?

RNLI Safety

Coastguard RNLI ThanetRNLICommunitysafety NMOC

National Maritime Operation’s Centre (NMOC)

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard


Andy Mills

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Striving to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2024 by spreading key safety messages to Thanet communities and its visitors.