Deaths off UK coastline reach new high

RNLI Shannon class lifeboat Image copyright RNLI
Image caption The RNLI's figures showed 84% of those killed were men

The number of people killed off the UK coastline in 2015 is the highest since records were first collected in 2011, the RNLI has said.

Some 168 people were killed last year while 385 lives were saved in "near-fatal" incidents, new figures show.

More than half (52%) of those who died had been walking, running, climbing or angling, the RNLI said.

The charity said the figures suggested people were "not taking enough care" along the coastline.

Cliff edge warning

The figures showed more people had died while walking or running along the coast (36) than any other activity.

The other main activities that had contributed to deaths were swimming, jumping in and general leisure use of the water (35), commercial use of the water (29), sailing and boating (16) and angling (11).

Some 84% of those killed were men.

RNLI coastal safety manager James Millidge said: "We're warning people to stay away from cliff edges - particularly where there is slippery, unstable or uneven ground - stick to marked paths and keep an eye on the water.

"Watch out for unexpected waves which can catch you out and sweep you into the water."

'No one expects to lose a child'

Image copyright RNLI/Nathan Williams
Image caption Phil Bindon's son, Mike, (pictured right with his sisters Jennie and Katie) was swept out to sea in 2014

Phil Bindon's son, Mike, was lost at sea in 2014, aged 23, after being swept into the water by an unexpected wave at Polzeath in Cornwall.

Mr Bindon said: "A freak wave caught Mike and swept him into the water. The lifeboats and helicopter were out searching for hours. I just wanted Mike back home...

"Mike's body has never been found. It breaks my heart. No-one expects to lose a child. An accident like this is a tragedy that I wouldn't want anyone else to go through."

Mr Bindon added that he wanted people to understand how "dangerously unpredictable" the sea can be.

The charity is entering the third year of its drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, which aims to halve accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

It is targeted at men because they account for the majority of fatalities.

Mr Millidge said cold water was "a real killer".

He said: "People often don't realise how cold our seas can be.

"Even in summer months the sea temperature rarely exceeds 12C (54F), which is low enough to trigger cold water shock."

Mr Millidge said this shock could leave swimmers "helpless" and "unable to swim or shout for help".

He added that those who planned to enter the water should be aware of the danger of strong rip currents beneath the surface which can "catch out even the strongest and most experienced swimmers".

The fatality figures were published by the RNLI following analysis of the National Water Safety Forum's water incident database.

There were 163 people killed off the UK coastline in 2014, 167 in 2013, 163 in 2012 and 164 in 2011.

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