Water users are being encouraged by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to put safety first over the May Day bank holiday. Whether planning a day at the beach or taking to the seas, the lifesaving charity is asking people to consider important safety measures to help ensure they enjoy the water safe in the knowledge they are following the RNLI’s expert advice.
On the May Day bank holiday weekend last year, RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews launched 167 times to help those in danger at sea, rescuing 204 people. Over the same weekend, the charity’s lifeguards responded to 86 incidents and helped 119 people in trouble on the beach.
The RNLI provides a 24-hour maritime search and rescue service, with over 230 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Ireland. The charity also has more than 140 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK – 30 of which will be operational (in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Wales) from Friday 1 May 2009 *.
To help the beach-going and sea-faring public stay safe and enjoy their bank holiday, the RNLI is offering these essential safety tips:
Beach Safety top 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 www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety
Six RNLI Sea Safety tips for safe trips: remember IT’S WET:
1. Inform – tell others where you’re going
2. Training – knowledge of your activity is essential
3. SOS device – carry a means of calling for help
4. Wear a lifejacket – a life statement, not a fashion statement - wear it
5. Engine and fuel – have you sufficient fuel and spares?
6. Tides and weather – check the conditions before heading out
For more information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety
RNLI Beach Safety Manager, Steve Wills, says:
‘The May Day bank holiday is often a busy time for the RNLI’s lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews. We want people to enjoy their time on the beach or out at sea, but it’s important to put safety first.
‘For those planning a trip to the beach, we advise always swimming at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags, where the lifeguards can see them. Those who can’t make it to a lifeguarded beach should find out about their chosen beach before they visit – check the weather and tide times before they go, and read safety signs at the entrance to the beach. If they see someone in trouble, they should call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard, but should not attempt to enter the water themselves.’
RNLI Sea Safety Programmes Manager, Tony Wafer, says:
‘We encourage all those going to sea this bank holiday and, indeed, in the coming months, no matter what boat or craft you’re using, to follow our six sea safety tips, by remembering: IT’S WET! This acts as an aide memoir to the six key tips for safe trips on the water.
‘At this time of year we’d like to remind all sea users to wear their lifejacket, to ensure they’ve checked it for wear and tear, and that it functions correctly because experience tells us that in an emergency there is not always time to make sure your lifejacket is correctly fitted and that it works. For some simple advice please visit www.rnli.org.uk/wearone.’
Notes to editors
· RNLI spokespeople are available for interview or comment. Please contact RNLI Public Relations on: 01202 336 789
· From Friday 1 May, RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling 30 beaches across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Wales. For full details please see: www.rnli.org.uk/rnli_near_you/find_a_beach/beachregion
· * RNLI lifeguards operate in three main seasons, which vary between beaches. Full season runs from 1 May to 30 September, Main season from 16 May to 20/30 September and Peak season from 4 July to 6 September.
· Last year, RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews in the UK and Ireland launched 8,182 times, rescuing 7,533 people.
· In the 2008 summer season, RNLI lifeguards responded to 9,535 incidents and helped 11,026 people on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.
RNLI media contacts
For more information, please contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.