Every year, around 150 people die at the coast around the UK and Ireland. Last year, the RNLI launched more than 8,000 times to those in need of help.
However, research by Helly Hansen, a partner of the RNLI, has revealed that UK boaters are not taking the right precautions while out on the water, and some believe experience and age are reasons to go without a suitable Personal Flotation Device.
Most survey respondents think they are a good example to others when it comes to water safety (81.6 per cent), however only around half always wear a PFD. Of those who do not always wear a PFD, only half say they wear one in bad weather, one fifth say they do not need to wear one because they can swim and only a third (29.44 per cent) say they wear one if they are sailing alone.
Gareth Morrison, head of water safety at the RNLI, said: “Our advice is simple, always wear a lifejacket when you are on the water, as accidents can and do happen to anyone, regardless of your experience or ability. The results of this survey are worrying as they show people are putting their lives at risk, with many thinking the advice to wear a lifejacket does not apply to them.
“Our brave volunteers rescue thousands of people every year, and unfortunately at times witness first-hand the effects that losing someone to drowning has on their loved ones. Research has proven that wearing a lifejacket can increase your chances of survival by up to four times if you are immersed in cold water.”
Pip Hare, professional sailor and Helly Hansen ambassador, added: “Cold water shock can affect everyone. Even if you are an experienced sailor or a very confident swimmer, cold water shock causes an uncontrollable reaction which elevates your heart rate and breathing. This can lead to breathing in water and potentially drowning, and it can affect even the fittest of people. Wearing a lifejacket with the correct buoyancy is vital to survival.”
To help raise awareness around the importance of wearing a lifejacket when out on the water, Helly Hansen and the RNLI have been placing lifejackets on statues across the UK. Lifejackets have been popping up on statues in coastal towns and cities across the country.
For advice on PFDs and how to keep safe while out on the water: www.rnli.org/safety
For more advice on choosing the best lifejacket: www.hellyhansen.com/news/how-to-choose-a-life-jacket