Figures recently released by the RNLI have shown that coastal fatalities along the British coast were the highest last year over a five-year period. 168 fatal incidences were recorded in 2015, together with 385 additional cases classed as near-fatal.
In most cases, those who lost their lives on the coastline last year were men, accounting for 84% of fatalities. Just over half of the incidents occurred as a result of walking, climbing, running or angling accidents, with a fifth related to walking and running on the coast.
Although the vast majority of people enjoy safe trips to the British coast, and they can safely participate in activities such as running, walking or climbing, the RNLI has suggested that when accidents have occurred, it is usually due to people not taking enough care. Simple precautions such as keeping away from slippery cliff edges or checking the tide times so you know the sea’s movements can help prevent these statistics from rising further. With the increase in storms, the RNLI is also urging beach-goers to keep away from the coast during bad weather, as strong waves can knock people to the ground and sweep them out to sea. Coastal paths can be slippery during wet weather, and erosion of land is possible, so walkers are urged to take care and stick to marked paths.
The RNLI has been committed to preventing accidental drowning, and its Respect the Water campaign is now in its third year (it is also the second year we’ve been pushing our #KnowYourTideTimes campaign). It’s not just knowing the tide times that is important, bathers should also take heed of the water temperature – this can cause a shock to the body, even in summer. If in doubt, wear a thermal wet suit when bathing, be aware of rip currents and swim within lifeguard-patrolled areas.