RNLI release new figures showing floating helps to prevent drowning

A CREWMAN has warned people not to panic if they get into trouble in the water as the RNLI reiterate a major campaign.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 6:27 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:45 am
Portsmouth RNLI's Aaron Gent. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Aaron Gent, crewman for the Portsmouth RNLI, spoke to The News as the life-saving charity said seven people were saved in 2017 by floating in the water while in danger of drowning.

The RNLI said 109 people lost their lives at UK coasts last year, with 24 in the south east.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) advocated floating as a key survival skill last year, and said one of the lives saved by its ‘Float to Live’ campaign was on the south coast.

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As the charity’s national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water enters its fifth year, it is urging anyone who finds themselves in trouble in cold water to stay calm and float.

Mr Gent said: ‘When you first go into the water your natural reaction is to panic, swim for help, and gasp for air.

‘If you lay back and float, you naturally start to relax and calm down. You’re able to focus, and then you can start to look for help. When you go into the water it’s a huge shock, it will still be stone cold on a warm day and that surprises a lot of people. But they key really is to try and float, it can genuinely save lives.’

Leaning back to keep the face and mouth above water, extending the arms and legs, moving hands and feet only as much is necessary and attempting to remain calm for a short time, all greatly increase the chances of survival.