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

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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.

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…

The Coastguard warns beach users to beware of RIP currents following two near misses

Coastguards are issuing a strong safety message this afternoon as tragedies were narrowly avoided on the Northumberland and South Wales coastlines.
David Jones, Swansea Coastguard Watch Manager says:

“If you are visiting the beach, try to go to one which is patrolled by lifeguards and swim between the flags. Take notice of any warning signs. In an emergency tell the lifeguard if one is available or if on a unguarded beach call 999 and ask for the Coastguard”.

At 13:30hrs, multiple 999 calls where received from onlookers at St Aidans Beach, Seahouses, as two teenage girls got into difficulty in a rip current. Battling the strong current, one of them managed to get to safety but with one girl still in the water, her brother attempted the rescue himself. Both Inshore and All Weather RNLI Lifeboats and the Seahouses Coastguard Rescue Teams were requested to attend. Rescue Helicopter 131 from RAF Boulmer was also diverted to the scene. As the 999 calls continued, it emerged that the father of both boy and girl had also gone into the water but had abandoned his rescue as he could not fight the tide. Though exhausted, the boy and girl managed to get ashore themselves but required some urgent medical attention. Being cold, shocked and having swallowed a lot of sea water, the three teenagers are now being treated at the Wansbeck Hospital, Newbiggin and Humber Coastguard cannot stress enough the importance of awareness of tides and currents when on the beach especially if visiting the area on holiday.

At 14:00hrs, Swansea Coastguard received a 999 call from a woman on a beach at Three Cliff Bay on the South Gower coast. Her three young children and their father were in difficulty in the water and were battling with a rip current. The rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor was scrambled, the Mumbles Inshore Lifeboat was launched and the Oxwich Coastguard Rescue Team were sent to the scene. The Coastguard also broadcast a distress message to which several vessels responded. One of the children had managed to make it to rocks and was rescued by the lifeboat from there. The other two children and their father were picked up from the water by the lifeboat. All four were airlifted to Morriston Hospital suffering with water ingestion and shock.
Mike Puplett, Humber Coastguard Watch Manager says:

“These children, teenagers and adults have been extremely lucky today, and we are thankful of a safe outcome. Strong currents are unforgiving, and I urge all beach users and bathers to be aware of the inherent dangers. Two men attempted self rescue, and were also overcome themselves”.
Read more on the MCA website…

Read more about Rip currents…

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…

Whitsand Bay RNLI lifeguards rescue four teenage girls from rip current

RNLI lifeguards patrolling off Whitsand Bay in South-East Cornwall have rescued four girls from a rip current. The teenagers were swimming off Tregonhawke Beach when the incident happened at 1pm. Fortunately two RNLI lifeguards on patrol in their inshore rescue boat were passing by as the rip developed.

RNLI lifeguards Naomi Bishop and Charlie Gillett were carrying out a midday patrol along Whitsand Bay when they noticed the four teenagers caught in the rip current. They were able to pluck them to safety really quickly, which as Naomi explains, was good news; “It’s a great day to have been on the beach today, really sunny and sheltered. But the rip current developed very quickly and caught the girls out and they were quite shaken when we got them into the rescue boat. I’m just glad we were on patrol and in the immediate area when things started going wrong for them. It can be very frightening to be caught in a rip, so don’t panic, remain calm and let the rip take you. Don’t try to swim against it, go with it and keep hold of your board if you have one with you. Stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you can, swim sideways until you are out of the rip current and then try to return to the shore.”

Conditions on the beaches in Whitsand Bay today were ideal, with lots of sun and shelter. But there was also a one and a half foot surf, choppy seas and it was very windy. Read more on the RNLI website…

Rip current survivors needed to help with RNLI research

Rips are strong currents running out to sea that can easily take swimmers from shallow water, out beyond their depth. They are especially powerful in larger surf, but are also found around river mouths, estuaries, and man-made structures like piers and groynes

The RNLI has appealed for people rescued from rip currents to help with “potentially lifesaving” research. The lifeboat charity is working alongside the University of Plymouth to establish how people behave when caught in a rip current. The research is designed to help the RNLI teach people the best ways to avoid getting caught in one.

Last year, rip currents were the cause of 38% of sea-based incidents the charity’s lifeguards responded to.

Adam Wooler, RNLI head of coastal safety and research, said: “Rip currents are consistently one of the biggest causes of incidents that the RNLI’s lifeguards deal with each year.”But very little is currently known about how people react when they become caught in one, which means it’s difficult to know how to educate people to avoid getting caught in one in the first place.”

Quantitative research will take the form of an online survey, which the RNLI & the University of Plymouth recently launched for anyone who has ever been caught in a rip current. It will ask about swimming ability, where the rip experience took place, and how the respondent reacted and escaped. Take the survey at rnli.org.uk/ripsurvey.

The RNLI and the University of Plymouth have are also researching the physical characteristics of rip currents, to help develop models to predict when and where rip currents are likely to occur. Empirical research using cameras, GPS equipment, and speed meters have been set up at Perranporth, one of the UK’s most popular surfing beaches on the north coast of Cornwall, to study the tides under a range of conditions. The drifters are released and their progress tracked to ascertain how rip currents work.

This data is used as part of a wider experiment to gain a greater understanding for beach safety advice and lifeguard operations. Related Internet links:

RNLI lifeguards issue rip warning after two rescues on the North Yorkshire coast

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is warning about the dangers of rip currents after four people were rescued in North Yorkshire by the charity’s lifeguards this weekend. Following the rescues, the RNLI urged people to ensure they swim within the red and yellow flags on lifeguarded beaches. This is the most closely monitored area and is assessed by RNLI lifeguards each day as the safest place to swim.

The safe-swim area will be away from rips, which are strong currents running out to sea and can quickly take swimmers from shallow water out beyond their depth. They are especially powerful in larger surf but are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.

Read more on the RNLI website…

Keep safe at the seaside this summer

RNLI has launched a free beach safety guide, ‘On the Beach’, which is packed full of hints and tips including what to consider when choosing a beach, understanding beach safety signs and flags, what to do if you get caught in a rip current, how to treat stings, and how to swim and board safely. The guide advises people to research their chosen beach before they visit to ensure it is suitable for their chosen activity.

See the guide at the RNLI website…