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25 deaths off the south-west coast in a year

25 deaths off the south-west coast in a year

Published by Emma Carton at 8:58am 30th May 2019. (Updated at 9:00am 30th May 2019)

It has been revealed that last year, 25 people died around the coast of Cornwall and the south-west.

The figures also show that 80% of those who lost their lives were men and two thirds ended up in the water unexpectedly.

The statistics from the RNLI also reveal that the Duchy's beach lifeguards rescued almost 14,000 people in 2018.

It comes as the charity launches its summer safety campaign, 'Respect the Water', urging people to 'Float to Live'.

Scroll down to watch the RNLI's 'Float to Live' video that could save your life at sea.

The campaign is promoting the 'Float to Live' message, which helped 11 people save themselves from drowning in 2018.

People like amateur surfer from Newquay, Ruth Osborne, whose leash snapped in the water at Perranporth.

'Wave after wave came. You get tumbled up like a washing machine. I was now out of my depth and drifting out of sight. I thought "that's it, that's me gone. I can't deal with this anymore".

"Just a few days earlier I'd been speaking to an RNLI lifeguard, who told me what to do if I was in trouble in the water.

"I remembered his advice to relax and float, rather than try and swim.

"I just trusted that laying back would allow me to keep my head out of the water.

"I was able to conserve my energy and catch my breath. I was eventually pushed back to shore. The advice helped me stay alive".

Ruth Osborne

What do last year's figures show?

  • The number of coastal fatalities in the south-west rose to 25 in 2018 and 80% were men.
  • Although coastal deaths were higher compared to the 2017 figure (18), 2018 is the second consecutive year to show a lower than average figure.
  • The data also shows over half (64%) of those who died at the coast in the south-west in 2018 ended up in the water unexpectedly.
  • That figure that has remained fairly consistent in over the last couple of years.

What is the advice to save a life?

  1. Fight your instinct to swim hard or thrash about - this can lead to breathing in water and drowning
  2. Instead, relax and FLOAT on your back, until you have regained control of your breathing

The message is always to choose a life-guarded beach, stick within the flags and follow the lifeguards' advice.

Steve Instance is the south-west prevention manager for the RNLI and a volunteer crew member at St Agnes.

"No one should have to lose someone they love to drowning. Many of the tragic deaths at the coast can be avoided if people understand the risks and prepare themselves by practising the Float technique.

"It's encouraging for us at the charity to see the number of coastal fatalities fall below average for the second year running, and we're hopeful our education work is contributing to this downward trend.

"We've been contacted by people who say they recalled the Float safety message while in serious trouble in the water, and that following the RNLI's advice helped save their life.

"But we can't get complacent, we all have a role in getting behind coastal safety education, investing in initiatives and sharing survival skills to help save lives from drowning.

"If you find yourself in the water accidentally, the cold can be so overwhelming. You've just got to fight that natural instinct to panic and try to lean back, relax and float".

Steve Instance

Watch the RNLI's 'Float to Live' video that could save your life...

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