Today (Wednesday 25 May) the RNLI launches its summer beach safety campaign as statistics show over 2.6million people flocked to enjoy Welsh beaches which were patrolled by the charity’s lifeguards in 2021.
Ahead of the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and half-term holidays, the RNLI with the support of HM Coastguard are launching a water safety campaign, urging everyone to remember that if you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live. To do this: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the Coastguard.
RNLI lifeguards provide seasonal safety service on 37 of Wales’ busiest beaches. Last year the charity’s lifeguards in Wales responded to 1,692 incidents over the busy summer months. With this summer expected to be just as busy, the RNLI is piloting a new QR code initiative to help beach visitors stay safe.
Rest Bay is one of twelve lifeguard units across Wales to be kitted out with new QR codes, which visitors can scan with their mobile phones for the latest safety advice. The code will lead the user to specific advice for that beach, which includes a bilingual film offering advice to any risks at that location. The videos, which are being trialled at selected beaches in Wales and the North West of England, will contain a message from the lifeguard who patrols the beach in that area.
RNLI lifeguards have already returned to their posts on some of the country’s busiest beaches, offering safety advice and assistance to members of the public. From this weekend the charity’s lifeguards will increase the service to daily safety patrols for the rest of the summer period at other local beaches including Rest Bay, Aberavon and Whitmore Bay in Barry until Sunday 4 September.
RNLI lifeguards already offer a daily safety service between 10am-6pm on Coney Beach / Sandy Bay and Trecco Bay.
Tirion Dowsett, RNLI Water Safety Lifeguard Supervisor in Ceredigion says lifeguards are looking forward to seeing the reaction to the new QR code safety project:
‘This really is an innovative project and a fantastic example of how the RNLI is trialling new technology to help us reach key audiences with important interventions. Much of the work done by our lifeguards is preventative work primarily through conversations with beach visitors.
‘We appreciate that some families can feel nervous to approach our lifeguards for advice, or perhaps the lifeguard may be carrying out patrols when they visit the unit. The new QR codes mean they have the necessary safety advice at their fingertips. We are confident this will help us to save even more lives and hope people will take advantage of this new means of receiving key information.’
Nationally, there were 277 deaths in the UK from accidental drownings in 2021, across inland and coastal locations, an increase of 23 from the previous year. 40% of people had no intention to enter the water, such as those walking, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves. Despite rising air temperatures, the sea temperature remains dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock, particularly for people not intending to be in the water.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead in Wales says:
‘We are expecting the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and the half-term holidays to be incredibly busy at the coast. We want everyone to enjoy their trip but we also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.
‘It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risks of the environment. It can be very unpredictable, particularly during early summer when the risk of cold water shock significantly increases, as air temperatures warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold.
‘If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the Coastguard’
The RNLI is also reminding people to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags this summer.
For further information on the water safety campaign visit: RNLI.org/FloatWales2022
A full list of RNLI lifeguarded beaches can be found here: rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches