NWSF News & Updates October ’13

The 2012 UK Water related fatalities; Water Incident Database Report has been released!

This report is the first release of WAID fatality information for 2012, and has been compiled by members of the National Water Safety Forum.
We gratefully acknowledge those organisations that have contributed data and special thanks are also extended to the contributing police, fire and rescue services. For further information on the WAID service please see: http://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid
Previous WAID UK Annual Fatal Incident reports, dating back to 2009 are available on the Forum’s website: http://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/reports.asp

MAIB Safety Bulletin 3/2013 – Wacker Quacker 1 / Cleopatra published

Summary: The MAIB has issued Safety Bulletin 3/2013 following the sinking of the DUKW amphibious vehicle Wacker Quacker 1 in Salthouse Dock, Liverpool on 15 June 2013 and the fire on board the DUKW amphibious vehicle Cleopatra on the River Thames, London on 29 September 2013. Issued 28 October 2013. Safety Bulletin 3_2013.pdf (4.38 kb) http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Safety%20Bulletin%203_2013.pdf

Arklow Meadow Accident Investigation Report 21/2013 published

Summary: MAIB Report on the investigation into a release of phosphine gas during cargo discharge on board Arklow Meadow, Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland on 5 December 2012. Report No 21/2013. Published 3 October 2013. View or download the full report: http://www.maib.gov.uk/publications/investigation_reports/2013/arklow_meadow.cfm

mv Amber Accident Investigation Report 22/2013 published

Summary: The MAIB report on the investigation of the contact and grounding of the bulk carrier mv Amber at Gravesend Reach, River Thames on 15 November 2012, was published on 24 October 2013. Report No 22/2013. View or download the full report: http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/mvAmber.pdf

Busiest summer in years – Says the RNLI

The RNLI have released provisional figures from over the summer period, showing sharp rises in the number of lifeboat launches across the UK. Across the UK and Republic of Ireland, the charity’s lifeboats launched 4,300 times – the most in 24 years – and lifeguards attended 14,814 Incidents.

Wales – Lifeboat launches across Wales between June – August rocketed by 43 per cent compared with summer 2012. Statistics reveal RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards across Wales have been exceptionally busy, with RNLI lifeguards responding to 946 incidents and RNLI lifeboats launching 726 times. Of the 31 lifeboat stations in Wales, 24 reported an increase in emergency calls with some experiencing dramatic rises. http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/RNLI-in-Wales-reports-busiest-summer-in-24-years.aspx

Northern Ireland – The lifeboats in Northern Ireland launching 138 times during the months of June, July and August, an increase of 20 per cent on the previous summer. The charity’s lifeguards were also busy on ten beaches with 259 recorded incidents, an increase from 142 incidents in 2012. http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/RNLI-figures-show-busy-summer-for-Northern-Ireland-lifeboats-and–lifeguards.aspx

Manx Lifeboat – Lifeboat launches across the Isle of Man between June – August rocketed by nearly 50 per cent. Of the five RNLI lifeboat stations on the island, Douglas, Peel and Ramsey have all reported a marked increase in call-outs. The most notable rise has been in services by the island’s all-weather lifeboats which have increased from 13 incidents in 2012 to 26 in 2013. http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Rise-in-Manx-lifeboat-launches-as-RNLI-reports-busiest-summer-in-24-years.aspx

East of England – 15 stations in the east coast of England launched a total 319 times between June and August 2013. This represents a very small drop of just 4.7 per cent from the 335 launches recorded in 2012. In addition, the charity’s lifeguards, which operate on 15 beaches in the east of England, were kept busy as they responded to 904 incidents during the 2013 summer season. http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/A-busy-summer-2013-for-lifeboat-crews-and-lifeguards-in-the-East-of-England.aspx

London’s lifeboat – Statistics from the charity, which runs lifeboats from three bases along the River Thames, show there were a total of 263 separate lifeboat launches between June and August 2013. This is just a handful more than the 253 launches recorded in the same period in 2012. Once again two of the RNLI’s London lifeboat stations were in the top five busiest of all 236 lifeboat stations around the UK and Republic of Ireland. The busiest was Tower station, which operates from a floating pier below Waterloo Bridge. Meanwhile Chiswick station, situated at Corney Reach Pier in the town, was ranked third busiest overall. http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Lifesaving-statistics-show-a-busy-summer-2013-for-RNLI-London-lifeboats.aspx

North of England – The charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews carried out 598 rescue launches in June, July and August – a 28.9% increase on the previous year. Only the summers of 2003 (632 launches) and 2009 (634 launches) were busier. RNLI lifeguards also experienced a busy season in the north, dealing with 1,408 incidents compared to 1,143 last summer – a 23.2% increase. http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Busy-summer-for-the-RNLIs-lifesavers-in-the-north-of-England.aspx

South-West RegionRNLI teams across the South West have been kept busy this summer, provisional statistics for the period June, July and August show a 24% increase in incidents for RNLI lifeguards, and lifeboat crews attending 652 rescues. RNLI lifeguards dealt with 10,615 incidents across the south west, including water based rescues, major and minor first aids and missing children.http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Summer-sunshine-keeps-south-west-RNLI-lifesavers-busy.aspx

Scotland – There were more than five lifeboat launches a day Scotland-wide, during a busy summer for the RNLI’s lifeboats. The total number of launches for June, July and August was 476 across Scotland’s 47 stations, just short of the record-breaking Summer of 2008 when there were 480 launches. There were 440 launches during the 2012 summer.
The busiest station in Scotland was Broughty Ferry with 43 launches for its two boats, compared with 23 the previous year.
http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Tobermory-RNLI-is-busiest-all-weather-lifeboat-station-in-Scotland-in-Summer-2011.aspx

Ireland – RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews in Ireland were kept busy this summer, with the charity’s lifeboats launching 571 times during the months of June, July and August. The figure represents an increase of 43 per cent on the previous summer.
http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/RNLI-figures-show-major-increase-in-Irish-lifeboat-launches-during-busy-summer.aspx

News and Updates May ’13

Fisherman Launch new film titled – Lifejacket: A Fisherman’s Friend
Two Bridlington fishermen have made a short film to encourage their fellow fishermen to wear lifejackets whilst at sea. The two minute film, entitled "Lifejacket: a fisherman's friend" is available at
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The decision to make the film came after a panel of experts concluded that 26 fishermen could still be alive today had they been wearing a lifejacket when they were involved in an incident at sea (2007-11 figures). The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG), were so alarmed by the new statistic that they put the idea of a short film forward to fishermen Dylan Silverwood and Christopher Stewart. They then made the film, with some help from FISG members.
"I wouldn't like to go to sea without a lifejacket", says salmon fisherman Dylan Silverwood. "When you hit the water, you start gasping like a fish, so unless you've got your lifejacket on, you could be in real difficulties. If you're a fisherman, please watch our little film and consider buying a lifejacket and using it whenever you set to sea. It really is quite easy to wear one – a lifejacket isn't heavy or cumbersome – and it could save your life."
This is the first in a series of films that fishermen will be making about buoyancy wear for different types of fishing.

Southwold Pier-to-Pub Swim: Dozens rescued from the sea
Dozens of people taking part in a charity sea swim off Suffolk had to be rescued after getting into difficulty.
More than 130 swimmers in Southwold had problems, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed. Four RNLI lifeboats and a rescue helicopter were involved from about 13:00 BST, after initial reports that up to 90 people were missing.
Two people were taken to James Paget Hospital in Gorleston with suspected hypothermia, the MCA spokeswoman added. The organisers of the race have not yet commented on the rescue operation.
The MCA spokeswoman said it was unclear how the swimmers got into trouble as weather conditions were fine, but the water was “very cold”. Some swimmers were rescued by lifeboat while a number of people swam to the shore themselves, she said.
Eyewitnesses spoke of exhausted swimmers coming out of the sea and being wrapped in towels, while a lifeboat hut close to the pier was turned into a makeshift emergency centre.
Organised by Active Outdoor Sport, the swim started north of the pier and was due to finish a mile down the coast. Read the full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22674418

Scrapping of HSE offshore division will undermine safety, survey finds
A survey released today of 5000 North Sea oil and gas workers has found that 75% believe the Governments decision to scrap the Health and Safety Executive’s offshore division will undermine offshore safety.
The survey, released by OilandGasPeople.com, also found 62% were worried that the scrapping of the unit would lead to another Piper Alpha disaster. The oil and gas workers questioned the timing of the decision to close the division two months before the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha Disaster. The setting up of the dedicated HSE offshore division was a key recommendation of Lord Cullen’s report into ways to prevent another disaster taking place. The decision also comes at a time when oil and gas workers are feeling more at risk. 72% believe that it is the worst possible time to close the Health and Safety Executive’s offshore division, given recent concerns over ageing platforms and closures of platforms due to safety issues, such as the recent leak at the Cormorant Alpha platform.

“While there is no doubt that safety on North Sea oil and gas rigs has improved immeasurable since Lord Cullen’s report into the Piper Alpha disaster, our survey clearly shows that rig workers are concerned by the timing of the decision to cut one of Lord Cullen’s key recommendations, in the year of the 25thanniversary of the disaster itself,” said Kevin Forbes, CEO of Oilandgaspeople.com.

“What’s more, the decision comes at a time when workers are feeling greater concern because of ageing platforms and recent leaks, such as on the Cormorant Alpha platform. It isn’t surprisingly that the combination of the cutting of the HSE dedicated offshore division and ageing platforms has left many offshore workers feeling more at risk,” he said.
Read the full story: http://www.oilandgaspeople.com/news/717/scrapping-of-hse-offshore-division-will-undermine-safety-survey-finds/

News and Updates – April ’13

Bathing water quality results announced
One of the UK’s wettest summers on record has led to a worrying drop in the number of beaches around the country being recommended for their excellent bathing water quality, according to the Marine Conservation Society in their annual survey. Read more.

Reminders to boaters to be CO safe following suspected poisoning deaths
Carbon monoxide poisoning is thought to have killed a mother and her 10-year-old daughter on a boat in Cumbria. The Boat Safety Scheme and All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, along with fire and rescue issues the reminder and urged holiday makers ‘to be carbon monoxide safe’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21993924

Mother swept to her death helping sons
A mother drowned after being swept out to sea by a rip tide as she went to rescue her two sons, an inquest heard. The 53-year-old dived into the sea off Northcott Mouth, a beach near Bude in north Cornwall, after seeing her 11 and 13-year-old sons getting into difficulties on their body boards. The woman, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, was caught in the current and drowned. It was the day after the summer season’s lifeguard cover had come to an end in September. The boys were rescued by other beach users. Verdict: accident. Report.

Lifeguard found not guilty of failing to supervise users
A lifeguard accused of failing to supervise pool users in Wolverhampton when an eight-year-old boy drowned was this afternoon cleared (April 30th). Read more.

RNLI lifeguard patrols finish for Summer the season

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The RNLI is advising people to take care around the South West coastline this autumn as lifeguard cover officially comes to an end on Sunday (30 September).

As lifeguards prepare to pack up for the winter, the charity will maintain patrols at weekends and half term in October on the region’s 12 busiest beaches. This weekend (Sunday 30 September) sees the official end of the RNLI lifeguard season in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Jersey. Lifeguard cover will continue on 12 of the busiest beaches across the region during weekends in October and throughout the school half term break. These beaches include Praa Sands, Gwithian, Porthmeor, Porthtowan, Perranporth, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze in Cornwall and Bantham, Croyde and Woolacombe in Devon.
For the second year running Fistral will have full time cover during October and will also be patrolled during weekends in November by volunteer lifeguards.
RNLI Lifeguard Inspector Steve Instance says;

“This year has been another busy season for RNLI lifeguards on beaches around the south west as the teams have dealt with a range of incidents from major and minor first aids, lost children, and numerous rescues of people in difficulty in the water. Thanks to additional funding from local authorities and private beach owners, the charity is again able to extend the lifeguard season into October on a selection of beaches providing safety cover for those looking to prolong the summer season and enjoy the favourable surf conditions that autumn brings. We encourage people heading to the coast at weekends and during half term to visit these beaches where the charity’s lifesavers will be on hand to keep people safe, offering useful advice to help prevent accidents and a rapid reaction if something does go wrong”.

The charity’s volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews remain on call 24 hours a day ready to respond to anyone in difficulty around the coast.

It is essential that people are aware of the dangers and know how to look after themselves in the water to prevent incidents.
We’d recommend that people take note of the safety signage at the entrance to the beach, always go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where they are going and be aware of the conditions and their own capabilities in the water.

If water users should find themselves in difficulty they should keep hold of their surf or bodyboard as it’ll help keep them afloat. Walkers should also find out about the local tide times and avoid visiting more remote parts of the shoreline when the tide is coming in.
More beach safety advice can be found at www.rnli.org.uk 

Surf’s up! Jersey school children take to the waves with RNLI lifeguards

School children on Jersey headed to the beach with RNLI lifeguards this summer to learn vital lessons about how to keep themselves safe in the surf. A total of 170 children from four schools took part in the charity’s unique Hit the Surf scheme which was delivered on Jersey for the first time this year. The programme sees RNLI lifeguards give surf safety sessions to youngsters aged between 7 and 11 – combining theory and practical lessons, which aim to make the children more capable and confident in the water.

Dave Gorman, the RNLI Lifeguard Manager who runs the programme, says:

“We were delighted to introduce the Hit the Surf programme to schools on Jersey. Hit the Surf is a fun and active programme for the children to get involved in but it also carries some very important messages about how to stay safe in the surf and what to do should they find themselves in difficulty”.

The danger of rip tides – and how to safeguard against them

The deaths by drowning this summer have highlighted the risks of swimming in open sea. The death this week of a woman who drowned when wading into the sea to save her young sons on a Cornish beach is the latest in a summer that has been punctuated by drownings, at home and abroad. Twelve British people, seven of them children, have drowned in the past month alone. It is too early to say whether they have been more numerous than usual, and different types of incidents are being conflated, but what is certain is that the rip current that appears to have caused the tragic accident in Cornwall should sound the alarm to all of us who blithely enter the sea unaware of its dangers. A rip current occurs where water receding from a beach finds a channel through which it can make a more rapid exit. Water rushes through that channel at speeds of up to 8ft per second, too fast for even the most adept swimmer to combat. Some rip currents, called “topographically controlled rips” and shaped by headlands or groynes, are permanent features. Potentially more dangerous are rips that occur on open beaches when water cuts a channel in a sandbar. Their unpredictability can be deadly.

“Rips will move, and what may be a perfectly safe place one day will not be safe the next day,” says Peter Dawes, head of lifeguards at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. He says you can sometimes see a rip from an elevated position overlooking a beach – the absence of waves breaking is one sign; white water on either side of a current another – but that in choppy conditions they are hard even for experts to spot.

If you are caught by a rip current and there is no lifeguard on the beach, don’t panic and don’t try to swim against it. Swim laterally at first to get out of the rip, which is likely to be fairly narrow. Once you are out of the current, then swim for the shore. If you are not a strong swimmer or if you find you are making no progress, tread water and try to attract attention.

But why risk it? Dawes says the key is prevention. Only swim on beaches with lifeguards (fewer in number now the school holidays are over); quiz them about prevailing conditions; only swim between the safety flags; never swim alone; and don’t let youngsters go in by themselves, even in shallow water. As he points out, we may be on an unfamiliar stretch of coast engaging in a once-a-year activity, so it’s absurd not to take precautions. Go to the Guardian website…

Croyde lifeguards rescue eight people from rip current

RNLI lifeguards patrolling Croyde rescued eight people yesterday afternoon (Thursday 19 July) after the bathers and bodyboarders were caught in an extremely strong rip current. The group, which included children, were extremely frightened and shocked at the strength of the current and couldn’t get back to shore. Lifeguards on duty were alerted to the incident at approximately 1pm when the tide was at its lowest point of the day. RNLI lifeguard Gary Sinkevicius was on patrol at the shoreline when he noticed some people go outside of the red and yellow flagged bathing area and begin to struggle in a rip current. He responded immediately on a rescue board and paddled out to the scene. He said:
“I passed two adults and children who were also caught in the rip current but were managing so I went straight to a woman and two children who appeared to be in more imminent trouble and were distressed. I took the two children on the board while lifeguard Russell Harrison, who had paddled out on a rescue board to assist, helped the mother. We paddled them to shore and headed straight back out to the scene to help others. In that time lifeguard Jimmy Manley had also helped a man from the rip current and brought him back to shore. Russell and I went back out to two children and an adult and brought them back to the beach. About 30 minutes later I went back out into the water to rescue another man who was struggling.”
RNLI lifeguard supervisor Matthew Whitley, said:
“There was a particularly strong rip current in the middle of Croyde beach yesterday, and unfortunately these people went outside of the bathing zone and got caught in it about 50 metres offshore. The lifeguards responded swiftly to the situation and did a great job in bringing everyone back to shore safely. The casualties were all very shaken up afterwards and grateful of our help. With school summer holidays upon us, and the weather forecast set to improve, the RNLI is offering the following top five beach safety tips to help people remember their seaside trips for the right reasons”.
RNLI’s beach safety tips
1. Swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags
2. Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas
3. Check weather and tide times before you go
4. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help
5. If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
For further information on Rip Currents go to the RNLI website…

Training session by Happisburgh RNLI volunteers leads to dramatic rescue

With the ever changing coast line of North Norfolk, senior helmsman Tim Grimmer at Happisbugh RNLI took the opportunity to map the old sea defences on the evening of Thursday 5th July, with a very low tide making the job much easier.
While checking the reefs at 5.45pm, a small boat was seen against a reef.  The crew went to investigate and found a man trapped by ropes in the water beside the boat; the crew entered the water and cut the man free and recovered him into the lifeboat and gave him first aid for shock and suspected hypothermia. The man was then taken to the beach, where they were joined by RNLI Lifeguards, based at Sea Palling, who used their vehicle to transport the man up the beach to the awaiting ambulance. Had it not been for Happisburgh’s training session this evening, the outcome may have been much more serious and this highlights the dangers of going to sea alone. Read more on the RNLI website…

Pensioner rescued from the Mud at Crosby

A pensioner was rescued from the mud at Crosby Beach, Sefton this afternoon after she had been stuck for over an hour. She was found, stuck up to her waist, at 4pm today by RNLI beach lifeguards on a routine patrol of Crosby Beach, Sefton. The 70 year-old local woman had been trying to raise the alarm for over an hour by shouting at dog walkers and beach users (there were around 50 in the area) but they hadnt heard her.
The Lifeguards contact MRCC Liverpool to explain the situation. The Coastguard Rescue team from Crosby, who specialise in mud rescues, were sent to the scene and the woman was quickly pulled from the mud by the Coastguards with assistance from the lifeguards. Its believed that the recent heavy rain has created an area of mud approximately the size of four car park spaces in an area that is normally soft sand around 200m north of Seaforth docks. The woman was taken by the Crosby Coastguard Rescue team to Liverpool Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre where she recovered from her shock and exhaustion. Su Daintith Liverpool Coastguard Watch Manager said;
“Recent heavy rains have transformed some areas of soft sand in to quick sand. If you do become stuck in mud stay as calm as you can, spread your weight as much as possible and if you have a mobile phone dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. If you dont have a phone slowly wave your arms above your head and shout to try and attract attention. You should also discourage others from attempting to rescue you because without the proper equipment they could become stuck too”. Read more on the MCA website…

Olympic diver launches bid to prevent drowning

Last week, British Olympic diver Nick Robinson-Baker launched a national campaign to reduce drowning and promote water safety. Nick, who became a lifesaver when he rescued fellow diver Monique Gladding from the water at a World Cup meeting in Russia last year, is spearheading the campaign by the Royal Lifesaving Society UK (RLSS UK).
The official launch of Water Safety Awareness Week, (which takes place June 16 to 24), comes following research revealed last month by Kellogg’s and the ASA that over a third of children are leaving primary school unable to swim 25 metres unaided. This is despite swimming being a statutory element of the National Curriculum and drowning being the third most common cause of accidental death in children.
RLSS UK hopes its national campaign will help to reduce the annual number of accidental deaths from drowning in the UK. Latest available figures, from the National Water Safety Forum, show that there were 420 accidental deaths from drowning in 2010 – one nearly every 17 hours.
Nick, aged 24, who is competing at London’s 2012 Games, said:
“Every drowning is a tragedy. With an average of 400 accidental deaths from drowning each year more needs to be done to raise awareness of how to be safe in, on and near water. I hope that this campaign can help to educate people about the potential dangers. This isn’t about telling people to stay away from water, but about knowing how to enjoy water safely, understand the risks and what to do in the event of a problem. I had a real wake-up shock when I had to rescue Monique last year. You never think that you’ll need to save someone in the water, and the truth is that I didn’t have a clue what to do, adrenaline took over, and luckily it turned out ok. Now I’d like to do whatever I can to convince people to become more aware that accidents in the water do happen and we should all know what to do if the worst does happen.”
Key safety tips being promoted during Water Safety Awareness Week include understanding beach flags and signs, taking time to check tide times and ensuring that you won’t be cut off when the tide comes in. At inland water sites, they include only swimming at lifeguarded lakes and always wearing a buoyancy aid when on the water.
Find out more about the campaign at the Water Safety Awareness Week website and follow the Week on Twitter at #WSAW2012. Find out more about the ASA’s School Swimming Manifesto and what you can do to raise awareness of learning to swim, go to the swimming.org website…