39 deaths in Scottish coastal waters

Queensferry RNLI Image copyright Rnli
Image caption Lifeboat crews had to deal with 39 deaths as well as more than 1,000 near misses

A total of 39 people died in accidents around Scotland's coast last year, the RNLI has revealed.

Lifeboat crews and lifeguards saved 27 lives and rescued 1,014 people.

Over the past four years, a total of 150 people have died - with men accounting for more than two-thirds of the fatalities.

It means that more people are now killed around the coast than in cycling accidents.

Across the UK, the number of deaths last year was at a four-year high of 167.

RNLI Scotland has now launched a drowning awareness campaign, Respect the Water, to warn people to stay safe.

The campaign highlights that adrenaline sports and rough weather cause the most call-outs, but are not the biggest killers.

'Cold water shock'

Slips and falls while walking and running are the most common cause of coastal fatalities in Scotland, accounting for 21% over the four-year period.

Spokesman Michael Avril said: "We're trying to make people, particularly men, realise that they are at risk from drowning if they don't follow some basic but important safety advice.

"Of course we want people to go to the coast and enjoy it - we're lucky to have an exceptional coastline around Scotland.

"But we want people to understand there are risks, and that they should not underestimate the power of the sea."

He added: "We're encouraging people to make the most of the coast but to do so safely by sticking to marked paths, staying away from cliff edges and reading safety signs.

"Cold water shock is a particular hazard in Scotland for those who enter the water, intentionally or otherwise.

"The UK sea temperature is cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock - not many people know that.

"If you're getting into the water, acclimatise gradually in shallow water."

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