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WATCH: 18 coastal deaths in the south-west in a year

WATCH: 18 coastal deaths in the south-west in a year

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 6:28am 23rd May 2018. (Updated at 10:44am 23rd May 2018)

18 deaths off the south-west coast in one year

A summer safety campaign reveals the number of deaths off the coast of Cornwall and Devon.

18 people lost their lives across the south-west last year, down from 33 the year before.

Although worryingly, the RNLI says more than half did not expect to end up in the water.

Scroll down to watch the video that could help you survive cold water shock.



Simon Burton fell from a pontoon in front of his wife and kids, but quickly realised he could not pull himself out.

He said: "At this point I became scared because there was no one around and I had just learnt about the effects of cold water shock.

"It took my breath away and I started to shiver uncontrollably. I felt my left arm go numb, then my right, then my legs it was very scary and I started to panic a bit.

"When I saw the RNLI arrive I have never been more relieved in my life, I knew I was in safe hands. The crew were absolutely brilliant and I will be eternally grateful to them and the two people that rescued me from the water".

Listen to his story...

Cornish lifeguard and RNLI Community Safety Partner, Steve Instance, says seven people found the 'float to live' advice helped save their life.

He said: "Losing someone to drowning is a shattering experience, so I am very pleased several people said the RNLI's Respect the Water 'float' advice helped them survive in a dangerous situation in the water last year.

"I'm also encouraged by the 2017 south west coastal fatality figure as it is lower than in previous years.

"We are hopeful that our safety campaigning and education work has contributed to a reduction in coastal deaths, but we cannot get complacent.

"It's vital we all keep sharing lifesaving advice to ensure last year's reduction becomes part of a long term downward trend in coastal fatalities. One drowning, is one too many".

"Worryingly, all of the deaths at the south west coast in 2017 were men, with many of them ending up in the water unexpectedly. It clearly highlights much more must be done to help men keep themselves safe around the coast".

What is cold water shock?

Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement, so the risk is significant most of the year.

Average UK and Ireland sea temperatures are just 12°C. Rivers such as the Thames are colder - even in the summer.

Cold water shock causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, which increases the resistance of blood flow. Heart rate is also increased. As a result the heart has to work harder and your blood pressure goes up. Cold water shock can therefore cause heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy.

The sudden cooling of the skin by cold water also causes an involuntary gasp for breath. Breathing rates can change uncontrollably, sometimes increasing as much as tenfold. All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic, increasing the chance of inhaling water directly into the lungs.

This can all happen very quickly: it only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs for a fully grown man to start drowning. You could die if you don't get medical care immediately.

What should I do if I end up in the water?

The RNLI has released a new 'Float to Live' advice video, ahead of the big summer getaway.

These five things could save your life...

You can read more safety advice and check the list of lifeguarded beaches in Cornwall on Pirate FM's Coast to Coast page - here.

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