Wednesday, 26 August 2009

RNLI Steps up Safety Campaign as Welsh Rescuers Prepare for Busiest Weekend

Volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards around the Welsh coast are bracing themselves for what is traditionally the busiest weekend of the year. Over the past five years, the August bank holiday weekend has seen the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews in Wales launch 200 times and rescue 221 people.

In light of the alarming new statistics that 84% of lives lost at sea last year, would probably have been saved had the casualty had been wearing a lifejacket,* the RNLI is stepping up its Useless unless worn lifejacket awareness campaign in Wales, ahead of the busy weekend.

RNLI volunteer Sea Safety Officers will be on hand at the Cardiff Harbour Festival, giving visitors the opportunity to get their lifejackets checked over for free. The checks will be part of a wider RNLI awareness campaign to ensure sea users wear lifejackets and educate them to ensure they are worn correctly and well maintained.

RNLI Sea Safety managers and volunteers around the coast of the UK and Ireland found that almost 35% of lifejackets they’ve looked at during RNLI Sea Checks would, in their opinion, fail to operate.

Nicola Davies, RNLI Sea Safety Manager for Wales says:

‘This bank holiday, especially if the weather is good, we fully expect to see lots of people making their way to the coast. We urge people to take heed of our warnings to avoid getting into trouble. Our advice is not meant to spoil the fun of water users, but it is founded on the years of experience of RNLI lifeboat crews, who know how unpredictable the weather can be and how quickly things can go wrong at sea.

‘One of our main messages will be educating the public that a lifejacket is us useless unless worn, if it is worn incorrectly or if it is not in full working order. It’s much safer to get into the habit of wearing a lifejacket at all times when afloat, because it means you’ll be familiar with your particular lifejacket and how to operate it should an emergency situation unfold. In the summer months when boat owners may take family and friends who don’t often go afloat, it’s even more crucial to ensure that all on board, including babies and children, are wearing a well-fitted lifejacket.’

Last year alone, the summer bank holiday weekend saw 40 RNLI lifeboat launches and 40 people rescued in Wales. RNLI lifeguards, who were operating on 12 Pembrokeshire beaches, also assisted 60 people over the same weekend. Across the UK, the RNLI’s volunteer crews launched 254 times, rescuing 273 people. Over the same period, the charity’s lifeguards responded to 603 incidents and helped 694 people on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.

The charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards are used to being busy over the August bank holiday as the coast is a popular choice for people making the most of the extended break. This year, with more people likely to be holidaying in the UK, there is every chance they will be even busier, which is why the charity wants to ensure people visiting the coast are aware of the potential hazards when using the sea, so they can try to keep themselves safe.

Neil Thomas, RNLI Lifeguard Manager for Wales says:

‘Beach-goers, particularly those planning to use the water, should choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. Those who can’t get to a lifeguarded beach should find out about their chosen beach before they go – check the weather and tide times and take notice of the safety signs at the beach entrance.

'Children should be supervised at all times, especially when in or near the water. Anyone who starts to struggle in the water should stick their hand in the air and shout for help. If they see someone else in trouble, they should call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard, but should not attempt a rescue themselves.’

The RNLI’s advice aims to help prevent incidents from happening in the first place but, should anyone find themselves in trouble in the water, the RNLI’s volunteer crews and lifeguards will be ready to respond. There are 31 RNLI lifeboat stations and 28 RNLI lifeguarded beaches along the coast of Wales.

The lifeguards operate beach patrols between 10am and 6pm, while the volunteer crews are on-call 24/7 to respond to emergencies at sea.

The RNLI’s top five beach safety tips

1. Always swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags

2. Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas

3. Check times of high and low tide before you go – to avoid getting stranded

4. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help

5. If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard.

If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard

For more information, visit


Post a Comment

| Home | Main Site | About Us | Contact Us | Follow us on Twitter | Join us on Facebook |