RNLI issues lifesaving warning as latest figures reveal fatalities around north west’s coasts

Aerial photos of the RNLI's Respect the Water Float to Live message sand art created by a sand artist at Perranporth beach, Cornwall.
Aerial photos of the RNLI's Respect the Water Float to Live message sand art created by a sand artist at Perranporth beach, Cornwall.

Seven people lost their lives along the north west coastline last year, according to the latest figures.

Annual coastal fatality figures from the RNLI lifesaving charity reveal seven people lost their lives off the region’s coast last year – more than 70 per cent of whom were male. The 2018 figures are identical to 2017, with statistics showing similar gender divides back to 2014.

More than half (57 per cent) of those who lost their lives did not intend to enter the water, RNLI said. Activities such as running and walking, or some waterside activity or in water play are contributing to people losing their lives.

As the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water launches for 2019, the RNLI is urging the public to take action and follow this potentially lifesaving advice if they find themselves in trouble in cold water:

• Fight your instinct to swim hard or thrash about – this can lead to breathing in water and drowning;

• Instead, relax and FLOAT on your back, until you have regained control of your breathing.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Community Safety Partner for the north west said: “No one should have to lose someone they love to drowning. Many of the tragic deaths at the coast can be avoided if people understand the risks and prepare themselves by practising the Float technique.

“We’ve been contacted by people who say they recalled the Float safety message while in serious trouble in the water, and that following the RNLI’s advice helped save their life. But we can’t get complacent, we all have a role in getting behind coastal safety education, investing in initiatives and sharing survival skills to help save lives from drowning.”

Chris added: “A worrying trend shows men make up most of the fatalities at the coast every year; last year five males lost their lives off the north west coast. Figures show 57 per cent hadn’t planned on entering the water, with slips, trips and falls catching them unaware while out running or walking. Knowing what to do if you fall into cold water can be the difference between life and death.

“The instinctive human reaction when you fall into cold water can cause panic and gasping for breath, increasing the chances of breathing in water. Although it’s counter intuitive, the best immediate course of action is to fight your instinct and float on your back.”

For more advice on how to float visit RespectTheWater.com. On social media search #FloatToLive #RespectTheWater.

The Respect the Water campaign will run throughout the summer with advertising across cinema, outdoor posters, radio, online, and catch-up TV channels.