Safety plea after swimmer saved from Sea Palling where man drowned
- Credit: Nick Butcher
After a swimmer was rescued from the spot where a man drowned last year there have been renewed calls for water safety diligence.
Lifeboat crews rescued someone in trouble around 300 yards from the shore at Sea Palling on Sunday, the same beach where a man died last July after getting caught in a rip tide.
Now there has been a fresh reminder from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) of what to do if you get into difficulty in the water.
Figures from the charity show that August is the deadliest month in our region for fatalities in open water.
Last year the region's RNLI crews responded to 126 emergencies in August – a fifth of their total annual launches and the highest number since 2012.
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Over the past five years, there have been 11 deaths on the East Anglian coast in the month, more than in any other time of the year.
The charity's community safety partner for the region, Ben Mitchell, said: 'With summer holidays upon us and hopefully some hot weather, our fantastic beaches are naturally a draw for many people.
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'But sadly this also means more people tragically losing their lives or getting into serious danger at the coast.
'We need to start a national conversation that encourages people to fight their instincts around water, so we are asking people to remember and share two skills.'
This paper has been running a Summer of Swimming campaign, to increase participation of the sport as well as make people more aware of the need to stay safe in the water.
The first bit of advice from the RNLI is if you see someone else in trouble, don't go into the water yourself as you may also end up in serious danger. Instead, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
The second is, if you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard or thrash about as this could lead to drowning.
Instead, relax and float on your back, keeping your airway clear, for around 60–90 seconds.
Mr Mitchell added: 'This will allow the effects of cold water shock to pass so you can regain control of your breathing and then swim to safety or call for help.
'Just remembering these two simple points could help save your life, or someone else's, this summer.'
A tragedy in the sea
Last summer a man died after getting caught in a rip tide off the coast of Sea Palling.
52-year-old Lesek Puchala, a Polish national, was visiting
his son on a family holiday
Four people got into difficulty when a powerful current trapped them in the water.
Mr Puchala was pulled unconscious from the waves and could not be revived, while a second man, a 26-year-old, was resuscitated at the scene and then airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Within minutes four lifeboats, four coastguard teams, two air ambulances, a coastguard helicopter, firefighters, paramedics and the police were on the scene.
If caught in a rip current, swimmers are advised not to fight it, and to swim with the current until you are free of it then return to shore.
If you cannot escape, float or tread water, and if you need help, call or wave for assistance.
While summer air temperatures may be warm, British sea waters rarely top 15C.
This is cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock, which causes the instinctive reaction to gasp and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning.
With around half the coastal deaths each year being people who accidentally slip or fall into the water, the RNLI's gives the following strong advice.
If you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard and thrash about.
Instead, float for 60–90 seconds until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath before then swimming to safety or calling for help.
Anyone planning a trip to the beach is advised by the RNLI to choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, which is the area most closely monitored by the lifeguards.
The RNLI is aiming to halve coastal drownings by 2024.
By the peak of the summer the RNLI has lifeguards patrolling 17 beaches in Norfolk and Suffolk from 10am – 6pm, seven days a week.
In Norfolk there are RNLI lifeguards at beaches until either September 10 or 17 at Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham West, Sheringham East, West Runton, East Runton, Cromer West, Cromer East, Mundesley, Sea Palling, Hemsby, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.
In Suffolk there are lifeguards at the following beaches until September 10: Lowestoft North, Lowestoft South, Southwold North, Southwold South and Southwold Denes.
IN 2016, RNLI lifeguards on 227 beaches around the UK dealt with 17,414 incidents and helped 20,538 people. Incidents ranged from slips, trips and stings to more serious water-based rescues.
In total the lifeguards saved 127 lives.