COASTAL death figures released today (Aug 1) by the RNLI show more people die at the Welsh coast in August than in any other month of the year, in line with the UK national trend.
Yet, worryingly, research from the charity shows less than one-fifth (17%) of the UK population say they would call 999 immediately to request help if they saw someone fall into open water.
The number of near-fatal incidents is also highest in August, with the charity’s Welsh lifeboat crews and lifeguards saving the most lives during this busy summer month.
The charity is reminding people to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency at the coast.
Over the past five years, there have been 16 deaths at the Welsh coast in August, more than in any other month.
This is also the busiest time of year for the RNLI’s lifesavers. Last August the charity’s lifeboat crews in Wales launched their lifeboats in response to 278 emergencies (23% of their total annual launches and the highest number in the five years). Meanwhile, RNLI lifeguards in Wales responded to 690 incidents on beaches (55% of their total annual incidents and the highest number in the five years).
Last August, RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards in Wales saved the lives of 36 people (37% of all the lives they saved in 2016).
As part of the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, the charity is calling on the public to help save more lives during this busy August period by remembering and sharing key survival skills. First, if you see someone else in danger in the water, fight your instincts to go in after them and instead call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Research commissioned by the RNLI has revealed that less than one-fifth (17%) of people in the UK say they would call 999 immediately to request help if they saw someone fall into open water5.
While summer air temperatures may be warm, UK and Irish waters rarely exceed 15C, making them 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 second piece of advice is: 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.
Helen Church, RNLI Community Safety Partner for Wales, says: “With summer holidays upon us and hopefully some hot weather, our fantastic beaches are naturally a draw for many people – 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.The first 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.
“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.”
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’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, is part of the charity’s work to halve coastal drownings by 2024. The theme of the campaign is: ‘Fight your instincts, not the water.’
It reminds people of the risks but, most importantly, provides them with the skills to survive for longer if they unexpectedly find themselves in water, and the knowledge of what to do should they see someone else in danger. ]
The RNLI is asking people to visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater where they will find safety advice. On social media search #RespectTheWater.
Communities and staff thanked for flood support
COMMUNITIES and staff have been thanked for their work during the Storm Callum Floods. The October floods caused great damage to homes, businesses, roads and bridges in the south of Ceredigion. The floods were the biggest flood event in the last 31 years in Ceredigion.
During the flooding, the council supported the emergency services to prioritise the saving of lives. This included making sure that roads and bridges made dangerous by floodwater were closed. The council’s emergency response and recovery procedures were carried out during the event. Multi-agency emergency procedures were also carried out.
Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Mr Eifion Evans said, “Council staff went above and beyond their duties over the weekend of the floods. I saw their efforts with my own eyes; staff who weren’t on duty were offering to come in to help our residents. We had to send some staff home as they wanted to work longer than the 12 hour maximum that staff are allowed to work in one shift.
I have also been impressed by the huge efforts made by communities to help each other during, and in the aftermath of the flooding.”
After water levels dropped, council staff from Community Wellbeing, Housing and Highways Teams immediately went to the affected areas to offer practical support and advice. They also saw the extent of the damage that had been caused.
Everyone who has been in touch with the council has been offered help with housing, including being offered emergency temporary accommodation where needed. The Housing Team have worked with local landlords and B&B owners to provide additional accommodation, and to provide ongoing support for people who have been affected by the flood.
The Community Wellbeing Team have also provided advice and specialist equipment to residents to help to begin to dry out their homes. This support is ongoing.
The council organised drop-in sessions in Lampeter, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Llechryd. The sessions were attended by many organisations that can offer support and advice. The sessions gave residents the chance to ask the organisations any questions they had about recovering from the flood.
The Highways Team have arranged a free service to pick-up and dispose of flood damaged materials and have put skips in local household waste sites for flood damaged possessions. The team also cleared 100 tons of earth from the B4459 near Capel Dewi after a landslide covered the road. The Highways Team also repaired damaged roads and bridges.
Mr Evans continued, “The council is dedicated to helping our residents recover from the devastating effects of the recent floods. I understand that the impact is still very raw for people who have been affected, especially those who have been made homeless. I want to reassure every resident that our committed staff are working hard to help you. Despite severe pressure on council budgets, we will do everything in our power to continue to offer practical help to residents.”
A flood recovery group has met regularly to look at how the Council can target help in the most effective way. A further flood newsletter will be published in the near future. The Council will also be hosting flood advice surgeries and building on the work of developing emergency support groups for flooding.
More information about the help the council can offer is available on the website on www.ceredigion.gov.uk/stormcallumfloods
Training company enjoy successful open evening
HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.
Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.
Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”
There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.
Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”
Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.
For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html
Vandalism at coastguard lookout point
POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.
A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.
“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”
Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”
If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101
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