"People will die this weekend": stark water safety warning ahead of Bank Holiday heatwave in Lancashire
An urgent water safety warning has been issued ahead of the expected heatwave this Bank Holiday weekend.
Research by the RNLI suggests that a record number of Brits plan to visit the UK coast this year, and this weekend is expected to be the busiest few days of 2021 so far as temperatures reach up to 23C.
>>>Click here to read Preston's bank holiday forecast.
"It's very worrying", said Rebecca Ramsay, who has campaigned for water safety since the death of her 13-year-old son Dylan while swimming with friends in Hill Top Quarry, Whittle-le-Woods, in 2011.
The Chorley mum-of-four said: "This year everyone is on tenterhooks to see what happens.
"More people will be staying in the UK and visiting places they've never been before, like Devon and Cornwall.
"They will be doing things they've never done before, like surfing and wakeboarding."
Figures released last month show that 634 people drowned in the UK last year, with 253 of them accidental.
Rebecca added: "There will be deaths this weekend, undoubtedly. I can't remember the last time we had hot weather and there wasn't.
"Every day since Dylan's died and we have hot weather, I expect a text or an email about someone else drowning, or a newspaper ringing me for a comment on it."
>>>Read more about Rebecca and Dylan's story here.
An RNLI poll of people aged 16 to 64 suggests 75 per cent – roughly 30 million, which would be a record – expect to visit the UK coast between April and September.
The organisation is “very worried” about the public’s safety and are urging people to choose beaches that have lifeguards.
Gareth Morrison, the RNLI’s head of water safety, said: “We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews."
He added: "We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.
‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.
‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but they can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock."
Rebecca added: "The advice is to go to lifeguarded beaches, but it's important to remember that a lifeguard can only see so many people at one time.
"You need to 100 per cent comply with the rules and be aware at all times of what's going on. Put your phone down and watch what your child is doing."
Rebecca's tips for safety at the seaside and in areas of open water:
- Watch your children at all times and be close to them. If you can't reach them, you can't save them.
- Choose brightly-coloured swimwear that can be seen in the water. Avoid dark colours.
- Do not take inflatables into the sea.
- Speak to the lifeguard and ask about conditions such as tide times.
- Know what the flags on a beach mean, such as red flags mean no swimming, and chequered black and white flags mean watersports and no swimming.
- Alcohol and drugs do not mix with water. People lose their inhibitions and put themselves in greater danger.
- Do not succumb to peer pressure to jump into water or go swimming.
- Download the What3words app, which easily helps you identify your location incase you need to call the emergency services.
- Do not try to swim against a rip tide. Swim adjacent to the beach, or lie on your back and wave for help.
Rebecca has launched a petition to increase swimming content on the national curriculum. Sign the petition here.