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East Anglia coastal fatality figures released: RNLI warns Respect the Water

Lifeboats News Release

Coastal fatality figures* released today (9 June) by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) show 10 people lost their lives around the East Anglian coast last year.

The number of near-fatal incidents was higher still, with the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards in East Anglia saving 25 lives in 2015**.

The figures are released as the charity enters the third year of its national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, which aims to halve accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

The campaign is targeted at adult men, who account for by far the most incidents. Over the past five years, 49 people have died at the East Anglian coast. Between 2011 and 2014, men*** accounted for 72% of the region’s deaths but, in 2015, it increased to 90%.

A surprising trend is that many of the coastal deaths each year are people who never planned to enter the water. Of the 49 deaths over the five-year period, over half (57%) did not intend to get wet – people taking part in activities such as coastal walking or running, or commercial activity. Of the 10 deaths last year, 80% (8) were people who did not plan to enter the water. Slips and falls while walking and running is the biggest contributing factor, accounting for 27% (13) of the region’s deaths over the five-year period and 60% (6) last year alone. e coastal deaths each year are people who never planned to enter the water. Of the 49 deaths over the five-year period, over half (57%) did not intend to get wet – people taking part in activities such as coastal walking or running, or commercial activity. Of the 10 deaths last year, 80% (8) were people who did not plan to enter the water. Slips and falls while walking and running is the biggest contributing factor, accounting for 27% (13) of the region’s deaths over the five-year period and 60% (6) last year alone.

Other activities commonly contributing to coastal deaths around the region over the past five years are general leisure use of the water, including swimming and jumping in, which accounted for 14% (7) of the deaths, and angling, which accounted for 10% (5) of the deaths.

The RNLI is aiming to halve the number of coastal deaths by 2024 and is this year renewing its warning to people about the dangers of cold water, slips and falls, rip currents and waves.

Paul Barker, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager for the east, said: ‘People need to treat the water with respect – it’s powerful and unpredictable. Each year RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards save hundreds of lives but, sadly, not everyone can be saved. We lose an average of 10 lives at the East Anglian coast each year and the real tragedy of the situation is that many of these deaths could have been prevented.

‘Cold water is a real killer. People often don’t realise how cold our seas can be – even in summer months the sea temperature rarely exceeds 12oc, which is low enough to trigger cold water shock. If you enter the water suddenly at that temperature, you’ll start gasping uncontrollably, which can draw water into your lungs and cause drowning. The coldness also numbs you, leaving you helpless – unable to swim or shout for help.

‘The fact that so many of the people who die at the coast each year never planned to enter the water suggests people are also not taking enough care along the coastline itself. We’re warning people to stay away from cliff edges, particularly where there is slippery, unstable or uneven ground; stick to marked paths and keep an eye on the water – watch out for unexpected waves which can catch you out and sweep you into the water.

‘If you’re planning to get into the water be aware that, even if it looks calm on the surface, there can be strong rip currents beneath the surface, which can quickly drag you out to sea. The sea is powerful and can catch out even the strongest and most experienced swimmers.’

UK-wide, the number of lives lost at the coast reached a five-year high last year, with 168 lives lost. The Respect the Water campaign will run throughout the summer on channels including cinema, outdoor, radio, online, and, for the first time, on catch-up TV channels.

The charity is asking people to visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater where they will find information on how to stay safe.

*Records from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) 2011–2015. RNLI has analysed the data using GIS software to plot and analyse incidents before inclusion in a specific coastal dataset (accident and natural causes only).Records from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) 2011–2015. RNLI has analysed the data using GIS software to plot and analyse incidents before inclusion in a specific coastal dataset (accident and natural causes only).ses only).Records from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) 2011–2015. RNLI has analysed the data using GIS software to plot and analyse incidents before inclusion in a specific coastal dataset (accident and natural causes only).


**RNLI lifeboat incident data 2015 (exc call-outs to self-harm incidents) and RNLI lifeguard incident data 2015.  RNLI lifeboat incident data 2015 (exc call-outs to self-harm incidents) and RNLI lifeguard incident data 2015.  

***All males except for those known to be under 18. Includes those where age was not recorded.

Notes to Editors
• Provisional coastal fatality data taken from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) 2011–2015. The figures quoted are for water-related fatalities from accidents and natural causes in UK tidal waters. The fatality figures for the East Anglia region for 2011–2015 are 6, 10, 5, 18 and 10.
• For interview requests, please contact Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager south east and London, on 07785 296252 / Tim_Ash@rnli.org.uk or James Oxley, RNLI Press Officer south east and London, on 07786 668825 / James_Oxley@rnli.org.uk.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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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 or by email.

 

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland

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