Figures released by the RNLI today show Porthcawl RNLI crew were again Wales’ busiest inshore lifeboat station during 2016 in terms of callouts. Porthcawl crew launched 80 times, rescuing 45 people and saving 7 lives.
Across the whole of Wales’ 30 RNLI stations, there was an increase of 11% on lifeboats launches last year, with crews going to sea on rescue callouts 1,175 times. The number of people rescued was also up 13% to 1,162. A total of 73 lives were saved.
The figures come as families think about heading to the Welsh coastline during the Easter break and the RNLI wants to help equip people with the knowledge and skills to avoid trouble in the first place and know what to do should they find themselves or others in danger in the water.
Matt Crofts, RNLI Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘Once again we are extremely grateful for the dedication shown by our lifesavers across Wales in 2016. Our volunteer lifeboat crews in Wales spent over 27,820 hours at sea last year, but we really do see our rescue service as a last resort.
‘Our annual Respect The Water drowning prevention campaign will be launching for 2017 soon and we urge people to give the water the respect it deserves. While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people thinking about their safety at the coast.’
‘We’re calling on anyone visiting the coast to make safety a priority, whether that means wearing a lifejacket, checking their vessel before they go afloat, knowing they should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency, checking the tide times before they set out, or staying away from cliff edges and unstable coastal paths.’
The volunteer lifeboat crews carry pagers 24/7, never knowing what may lie ahead when the alarm is raised. Last year saw an increase in people being cut off by the tide, with this cause accounting for 125 lifeboat launches across Wales – up from 111 in 2016. Other causes for lifeboat launches last year include people in danger of drowning (92), missing people (94) and people thought to be in trouble (164).
All-Wales figures for RNLI lifeguards show they responded to 1,271 incidents and rescued or assisted 1,436 people, up on the 2015 figures.
Paul Eastment, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘Wales’ beaches will begin to get busier over the Easter period and we urge anyone visiting the coast over the holiday period to seek safety information and be prepared. We also urge people to visit a lifeguarded beach and seek advice on safety from our fully trained lifeguards.’
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.
During 2016 Porthcawl RNLI launched a new website to encourage the public to #RespectTheWater. The site features a live cam showing current conditions along with up to date local weather info and tide times. Hopefully the public can use this information when deciding whether conditions are suitable to take part in sea based activities. Tide time info can also help people to avoid locations suspectible to getting cut off. In rough weather the cam allows viewers to watch Porthcawl’s famous pier waves from the safety of their home. The live cam is currently averaging over 10,000 views per month.