With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford
BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has joined members of Fraserburgh Lifeboat crew to mark the launch of the Royal National Lifeboat Association’s summer campaign to raise awareness of staying safe by the sea.
‘Respect the Water’ aims to spread awareness on safety at sea, particularly during the summer months, and decrease the number of deaths at sea by half by 2024.
Around one-hundred and ninety people die at Irish and UK coasts each year, and the majority of these people do not intend on entering the water.
Dr Whiteford visited the Lifeboat station in Fraserburgh on Friday to meet Coxswain Vic Sutherland and other Lifeboat volunteers, and joined the crew on a training exercise off Kinnaird Head. She also met with representatives of the RNLI at the group’s reception at Westminster to launch the campaign yesterday.
Speaking afterwards, she said:
“Everyone in Banff and Buchan needs to know about safety on the water and around our coastline. With so many local livelihoods dependent on off-shore industries, most folk already have a healthy respect for the sea, but every year preventable incidents put lives at risk.
“Speaking to local lifeboat crew members, there are particular risks at this time of year with dinghies and other inflatables. Strong rip tides on some of our most popular beaches, and our windy weather, can cause real dangers to swimmers and those involved in other water sports. Another well-documented risk is people falling in harbours late at night having left pubs or clubs.
“Everyone wants to have fun on these fine Summer days, but we all need to be sensible and aware of the risks
“For nearly two centuries, lifeboats have set out along the Buchan coast, and last year alone, Scottish lifeboats rescued over a thousand people. Since the RNLI’s establishment in 1824, it has saved more than 140,000 lives. Even allowing for the timeframe, that’s an absolutely astonishing level of heroism, and the men and women who volunteer to crew our lifeboats deserve enormous gratitude and support.
“We can all do our bit to support the campaign by being aware of the risks.”
Respect the Water have identified that the main risks originate from three separate factors. These entail: shock, rip currents and waves, and suddenly falling into water. The shock that cold water brings to the system takes air from the lungs and causes people to feel helpless leading to a panicked state.
The unpredictability of the water is a highly influential factor in the cause of drowning, as currents can pull even the strongest of swimmers far into the sea.
Lastly, people can drown by tripping, slipping or falling into the water unexpectedly.
Studies have shown that out of the total number of deaths, two-thirds are male. The campaign is targeting men aged between sixteen and thirty-nine years old in particular, who are the most likely demographic to die at sea. The RTW campaign found that last year, on average, fifteen per cent of people in the UK recognised Respect the Water and a higher percentage of twenty-one per cent of males had acknowledged the campaign.
This shows that RTW had successfully raised awareness throughout the UK after being a national campaign for under a year.
This year, Respect the Water will advertise its campaign in several different ways, including poster advertising. From August 2016, RTW posters will be put up on billboards all around the coast, in male lavatories and pubs situated near water.
By the end of this month, the RTW campaign will introduce an interactive video to social media sites which will put people in a water related scenario and have them choose what to do next.
For more information on the campaign, visit: http://rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water/Pages/Safety.aspx
- Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.