RNLI safety warning as north of England rescue figures are released

Lifeboats News Release

In 2016 Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats in the north of England launched more than 1,000 times. As the Easter holidays approach, and in a bid to reduce this year’s rescue statistics, the charity is urging people to take extra care at the coast.

The volunteer crew at Blackpool RNLI in action

RNLI/Nigel Millard

The volunteer crew at Blackpool RNLI in action

RNLI statistics issued today (Wednesday 29 March) show that volunteer lifeboat crews at the 33 lifeboat stations* in the north of England launched 1,032 times last year, an increase of more than 8% on 2015 when there were 954 launches. The charity’s lifeguards on 38 beaches in the north* also saw an increase in the incidents that they attended with 2,398 incidents in 2016 compared to 2,065 in 2015.

Across the UK and Republic of Ireland, lifeboat launches were up 7.5% to 8,851 in 2016 - a five-year high – while the number of people rescued was 8,643, up from 7,973 the previous year.

Following the release of the statistics, the charity wants to equip more people with the knowledge and skills to avoid trouble in the first place and to understand what to do should they find themselves or others in danger in the water.

Darren Lewis, RNLI Lifesaving Manager said: ‘In 2016, our charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards in the north of England saved 64 lives. The figures from last year show immense dedication by our volunteer lifesavers but the increase in lifeboat launches and incidents dealt with by our lifeguards highlights the need for people to be extra vigilant in or around water.

‘Our charity promotes safety messages all year round via interactive campaigns such as Respect the Water and Hit the Surf. Through these initiatives we have equipped thousands of people with invaluable lifesaving tips. With Easter just around the corner, it’s the ideal time to remind people that to have an enjoyable time at the coast, they need to treat it with respect. A little preparation beforehand and knowing what to do if you do get into trouble can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.’

Top safety tips for people visiting the coast include:

· Familiarising yourself with tide times before setting off

· Always letting someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be return

· The correct way to raise the alarm if you do get into difficulty – by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard

· To always swim at a lifeguarded beach

The charity’s lifeguards will be returning to many beaches during April with safety patrols operating through to September. For a list of season dates please visit: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches

Darren added: ‘We’d always urge people to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards are highly trained and are able to deal with anything from locating missing children through to lifesaving rescues. They’re always happy to offer friendly safety advice and this provides beach users with extra peace of mind.’

The 2016 statistics also show in the north of England an increase of lifeboat launches to people who got into difficulty ashore, with incidents rising almost 16% from 240 in 2015 to 278 in 2016. This highlights how people need to take extra care on coastal walks or whilst walking their dogs near the sea.

The busiest lifeboat crew in the north of England in 2016 was Sunderland which launched its inshore lifeboats 100 times, followed by:

Blackpool – 84 launches

Tynemouth – 75 launches

Humber – 67

Fleetwood - 55

Videos and pictures

1. The photo shows Blackpool RNLI in action. Credit: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Video of Sunderland RNLI in action: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2016/august/13/sunderland-rnli-save-capsized-kayaker-video

Video of Blackpool RNLI in action: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2017/february/08/blackpool-rnli-volunteers-respond-to-report-of-car-in-the-sea

Video of Tynemouth RNLI in action: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2017/january/13/tynemouth-rnli-assist-evacuation-of-seaman-from-ship-in-joint-sea-and-air-rescue

Video of Humber RNLI in action: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2016/august/22/humber-lifeboat-launch-to-50ft-yacht-60-miles-offshore-video

Video of Fleetwood RNLI’s Shannon class lifeboat arriving: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2016/june/26/fleetwoods-new-shannon-class-lifeboat-arrives-video

Notes to editors

· The 33 RNLI lifeboat stations in the north of England cover the area from Silloth in Cumbria to West Kirby on Wirral on the west coast, and Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland to Skegness in Lincolnshire on the east coast.

· RNLI lifeguards patrol the region’s beaches during the summer season, mainly running from June to September, with the exception of Crosby beach in Sefton which is patrolled 365 days a year. The lifeguard statistics cover beaches in the north east, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Sefton and Wirral.

Media contacts
For more information, please contact Clare Hopps, RNLI Press Officer North, on 07824 518641 or at:
clare_hopps@rnli.org.uk or, Kirsti Pawlowski, RNLI Public Relations Officer (News) on 01202 663510 or at: Kirsti_Pawlowski@rnli.org.uk

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.