RNLI and Coastguard renew water safety appeal during heatwave after spike in incidents

  • Report by Kris Jepson

The RNLI and Coastguard are warning of the dangers of swimming in open water as children head to cool down in the summer sun.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard are calling for families to take care at the coast during the school holidays.

Of those lives saved, 64% (35) were aged 12 or under, while RNLI lifeguards also cameto the aid of another 12,344 under-18s between June and September 2020.

It comes just days after 14-year-old Matthew Sherrington went missing after playing in the sea in the Headland area of Hartlepool.

He was reported missing to police on Thursday 15th July.

Officers immediately searched the beach and sea area along with several lifeboats, who searched overnight but so far, they have not been able to find him.

With school children in some parts of the North East breaking up this week, the RNLI and Coastguard are reminding families to be aware of the risks, and have launched a new animated TV advert to help young children understand how to stay safe at the coast.

RNLI Water Safety Manager Sam Johnson said: "We see a big increase in the number of incidents in the sea involving children and teenagers during the school summer holidays and we would urge everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.

RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer adviceon how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

"Children should be supervised at all times and people of all ages should avoidswimming alone.

"We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think abouttheir own safety and know what to do in an emergency."

Key summer safety tips:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags

  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting theurge to thrash about

  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said the coastal emergency services havealready been busy this summer.

"Last year we had our busiest-ever summer on record, with 13,493 incidents from thestart of June to the end of August," she added.

"And, despite the variable weather this June, we responded to 3,981 incidents - up from3,536 in June 2020 - so we’re expecting it to be another busy season.

"We want everyone to enjoy the summer around our coasts and take home only happymemories. The sea can be dangerous, so we’d ask everyone to help the emergencyservices by taking safety seriously."