NWSF NEWS & Updates

‘Turn around, don’t drown’
More than half (54%) of UK drivers would endanger themselves and their vehicles by driving through moving flood water; according to a joint Environment Agency and AA survey. The research also revealed that more than a quarter (27%) of respondents would drive through moving flood water deeper than 30cm, (which is enough to move a car). The EA and the AA strongly advise not entering flood water that is moving or water more than 10cm deep.
Last year, the second wettest on record in the UK, claimed the lives of several motorists. In the same period, the AA rescued almost 9,000 vehicles that had driven through or were stuck in flood water, with an estimated insurance bill of more than £34 million. The survey found that:

  • more than two-fifths (42%) of drivers would blindly follow the vehicle in front if it had crossed a flooded road successfully;
  • the equivalent of 680,000 drivers would ignore a ‘road closed’ warning sign and drive down a flooded road rather than take a short detour – this is dangerous, an offence and insurers could reject any flood damage claim;
  • people aged between 55 and 64 are most likely to risk driving through the deepest flowing flood water (up to 34cm);
    men would attempt to drive through deeper water (up to 34cm) than women (up to 27cm):
  • and those living in North East England would attempt to drive through deeper water (up to 34cm) than anywhere else in the UK.

‘Tragically people die because they’ve taken risks and attempted to drive through flood water. Flood water is dangerous, dirty and it can carry disease. If there is widespread flooding in your area then don’t travel and if a road is closed then turn around and make a detour. It is tempting to think you’re safe from the dangers of floodwater in some big vehicles like 4x4s and vans, but the fact is, that you aren’t’ said Adele Needham for the Environment Agency. The EA in the South West has been trialing hi-tech signs at three blackspots in the West Country, where drivers have previously been rescued after becoming trapped by floodwater. The lights were introduced as part of a ‘Think Don’t Sink’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of the dangers of flooded roads. The lights, that are similar in size to standard speed limit signs, are linked by telemetry to nearby watercourses and immediately start flashing when water levels reach the point where a road has flooded. The word ‘Flood’ is clearly visible to approaching drivers. Signs are positioned either side of a flooding blackspot at the point where motorists can chose an alternative route and avoid being trapped in their vehicle. Often they are in Rapid Response Catchments where conditions can change quickly following heavy rain and water levels rise with little warning. To find out if you are at risk and to sign up for free flood warnings go to:
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/default.aspx or call Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Coastal safety and Coastguard safety messages

The Coastguard remind dog owners not to put themselves in danger
Humber Coastguard is again urging dog owners not to put themselves at risk by trying to save their pet. The warning comes after the rescue of a pitbull terrier that jumped into the water at Seaham Pier, County Durham. Graham Dawson, Watch Manager at Humber Coastguard, said:
“The owner was worried about her pet and told emergency services that she was going to enter the water to try to rescue her dog. This is something we strongly advise against, as you are likely to get into difficulty yourself. We find that most dogs manage to get themselves back to shore safe and well, but some owners do not. We’d also encourage owners to keep their pets on a lead. But if they do enter the water or fall down a cliff edge, please call 999 straight away and ask for the Coastguard.” Read more: http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=B3C4D8D51D7608DE&m=12&y=2013

A joint appeal from the Police and Coastguard: ‘Do not enter the sea during bad weather’.
Devon and Cornwall Police with Her Majesty’s Coastguard are appealing to local residents and visitors to the Devon and Cornwall region not to enter the sea during the bad weather. A police spokesperson said: “There are people who enjoy swimming in all weathers as well as those who may underestimate the danger a rough sea can pose. During the current bad weather, we would like to appeal to people not to put themselves, and emergency personnel who might have to turn out to rescue them, in unnecessary danger.”
HM Coastguard advises that those who enjoy walking on beaches and rocky areas stay away from the surf line during this period of extreme weather and ensure that children and pets do likewise. Large waves can easily take people by surprise and the force of the waves is significant. Dogs should be kept on leads if walking along cliff tops.
In an emergency at the coast, do not put yourself in danger by entering the water or climbing cliffs but call 999 and request the Coastguard. http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=B3C4D8D51D7608DE&m=12&y=2013

Huber Coastguard urge anglers to name their fishing gear
After having coordinated a search for an angler who left valuable fishing gear unattended on a jetty at Ness Point, Lowestoft, the Coastguard urge anglers to name their fishing gear. The search involved four lifeboats, one Police helicopter and a Coastguard Rescue Team. The angler concerned had gone home to collect his medication and then got held up. Graham Dawson, Humber Coastguard watch manager says:
“We take all reports of possible missing persons at sea very seriously, with the recent bad weather and floods we have been extremely busy and if this angler had clearly named his fishing equipment we could have contacted him and saved the time and effort of the resources involved in today’s search effort.”
http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=B6F7449E1E8B3FEC&m=1&y=2014

The RNLI ‘Respect the Water’ campaign

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Despite the best efforts of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s volunteer crews and lifeguards –  Did you know that around 150 people still lose their lives around the UK coast each year, and around 80% are men?

….And are you aware that cold water shock occurs in water less than 15 degrees, but the average UK sea temperature is just 12?

Pictured L-R Back - Virginia Billcliff (RNLI Volunteer), Denise Cobb (Brighton and Hove Mayor), James Haskell (Wasps and England Rugby Player) and Dan Gurr (RNLI Volunteer).

Denise Cobb (Brighton and Hove Mayor), James Haskell (Wasps and England Rugby Player) and RNLI volunteers Supporting Respect the Water campaign. Picture by Brighton Togs http://www.brightontogs.com

You may also be surprised to know that just one metre cubed of water weighs a tonne, and that is not a lot of water. Although as water safety professionals some of this may seem obvious, our research shows that many of those most at risk underestimate such facts, and therefore put themselves in situations of increased and unnecessary risk.

These findings underpinned a new RNLI coastal safety campaign called ‘Respect the Water’ last summer to help raise awareness about dangers of drowning and general risks around the coast. The campaign was piloted in the South-East of England during August and was launched in Brighton by England rugby star James Haskell who kindly gave his time for free to support the RNLI.

The campaign consisted of traditional outdoor posters and PR activity, but also a combination of radio adverts, digital banners and specially designed pint glasses and beer mats to warn about the dangers of drinking and swimming. An experiential road show visited three key locations and included a custom built ‘tonne of water’ and water filled punch bag to engage with adult men, those who are most at risk of drowning.  The campaign used facts, real stories and local content to it interesting and relevant, challenging that alpha male bravado which is often associated with keeping safe around water. Even though you are tough and strong, could you push yourself against a tonne of water, or how long could you fight against the water, the opponent that will never tire?

Pictured L-R: Denise Cobb (Brighton and Hove Mayor) and James Haskell (Wasps and England Rugby Player). They were today supporting Respect the Water.

Pictured L-R: Denise Cobb (Brighton and Hove Mayor) and James Haskell (Wasps and England Rugby Player). They were today supporting Respect the Water. Picture by Brighton Togs www.brightontogs.com

We are proud to announce the pilot won three prestigious DMA awards (Direct Marketing Association) in December, with gold for best use of experiential, two bronze for best media strategy and best use of copy, and a nomination for best creative solution. The campaign was completing against international brands such as Virgin Holidays, 02, Honda, Unicef, Unilever, EE and IBM to name a few, so we are delighted with such recognition so early on in the development of the campaign.

The plan for 2014 is to increase coverage to a national scale around the coastline of the UK, with focused activity in up to ten locations identified by the RNLI as areas of significant risk and a high number of incidents.

Written by: Ross MacLeod, Coastal Safety Manager (Marketing), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.