UK safety warning for younger swimmers following summer rescues

RNLI coastguard on beach


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard have teamed up to remind families to take care when visiting the coast as new figures reveal that during the school summer holidays* last year, of the 41 lives saved by RNLI lifeguards 39 per cent were children under 13. 

As schools prepare to break up in England and Wales, RNLI beach lifeguards, are expecting to be extremely busy again during the long summer break. 

Last year RNLI lifeguards aided a total of 11,959 people during the school summer holidays. Of those, children under the age of 13 were the most assisted age group with 4,968 aided and 16 lives saved.

RNLI water safety manager Ross Macleod has put together this soundbite, offering advice on how to stay safe this summer.

Steve Instance, from the RNLI water safety team, says: “With an estimated 35 million people planning to visit the UK coast this summer**, our lifeguards will be extremely busy during the school summer holidays with younger children, in particular, needing assistance more than any other age group.

“To stay safe, we’re reminding families to choose a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags which is the safest area as it is constantly monitored by our highly-trained lifeguards.

“A simple skill we ask everyone of any age to remember is how to float to live if they find themselves in difficulty in the water. Lean back like a starfish, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. This will allow you to control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. The technique has been proven to save lives.”

Earlier this month, MIN reported that RNLI callouts to aid paddleboarders in trouble have also rocketed.

The RNLI’s key water safety advice for 7-14 year-olds is:

  • Stop and think – Always swim in a safe place.
  • Stay together – Always swim with an adult, younger children and non-swimmers should always be within arm’s reach.
  • Float – If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float on your back like a starfish.
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard
  • * figures for England and Wales summer holidays – July 23 to Sept 1 2021
  • ** April – 30 September. Basis Research, RNLI Water Safety Survey, April 2022. Representative sample of 1,013 UK adults aged 16-64 / 505 Irish adults aged 16-64
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