East Anglian coastal death toll is revealed as RNLI chiefs issue safety warning

Lifeboat. Photo: MICK HOWES. Lifeboat. Photo: MICK HOWES.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
6:30 AM

Lifeboat bosses have issued a warning to beachgoers, as new figures reveal five people died in accidents on the east Anglian coast last year.

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The coastal fatality data, released today, shows that the number of near-misses was significantly higher - with 69 people owing their lives to RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards.

A drowning awareness campaign called ‘Respect the Water’ is being launched by the RNLI to hammer the safety message home.

Guy Addington, RNLI coastal safety manager for the east of England, said: “With more people losing their lives at the coast each year than are killed in cycling accidents, we’re trying to make people, particularly men, realise that they are at risk from drowning if they don’t follow some basic but important safety advice.

“Of course we want people to go to the coast and enjoy it – we’re lucky to have some exceptional coastline around the UK – but we want people to understand there are risks, and that they should not underestimate the power of the sea.”

The figures released today are for 2013, and show that nationally 167 people lost their lives at the UK coast.

This is the highest number in four years.

In the last four years, a total of 28 people lost their lives on the Anglian coast.

RNLI bosses have studied the data closely to learn how best to save lives and how to make people take coastal safety seriously.

They found that more people die at the coast each year than are killed in cycling accidents.

Figures show that adult men account for more than two-thirds of coastal deaths nationally, and it is casual, everyday use of the coast and sea which often results in fatalities.

Bosses have warned people that it is not just water-based activity which puts people in danger – slips and falls are a common issue.

But cold water shock is a significant danger, as the UK sea temperature is cold enough to trigger cold water shock all year round.

The RNLI is aiming to halve accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

England rugby star James Haskell is supporting Respect the Water.

He said: “The water is the opponent that never tires, so make sure you’re never put to the test.”

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