Beach drownings warning by RNLI

RNLI lifeguards rescue a man off Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, in July 2014 RNLI lifeguards rescue a man caught in a rip current off Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

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More people die in seaside accidents than in cycling road incidents every year, claims the RNLI as it warns people to take care on the coast.

Seventeen people drowned or died in accidents around the Welsh coast in 2013 while 65 lives were saved by RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards.

Alcohol and the shock of cold water are blamed as major factors.

The warning comes a day after rescuers were called to 13 incidents on the north Wales coast.

A total of 167 people lost their lives off the UK coastline last year - the highest number since 2010.

The RNLI said it was aiming to halve accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

It said the numbers of deaths at the seaside was much higher than the 109 deaths in cycling accidents on Britain's roads in 2013.

On Wednesday, coastguards based at Holyhead, Anglesey, reported over a dozens incidents alone across north Wales, including people cut-off by the tide, a man taken to hospital after being pulled from the sea at Barmouth in Gwynedd and a boy saved by an inshore lifeboat at Towyn in Conwy.

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'Completely overcome'

Thomas Redmond, 21, from Briton Ferry, gave his backing the RNLI's Respect the Water safety campaign after he was rescued when his kayak filled up with water and overturned at Aberavon in June.

"I consider myself to be quite strong but I was completely overcome by the water," he said.

Thomas Redmond (centre) thanks the Port Talbot RNLI crew which saved his life off Aberavon in June 2014 Thomas Redmond (centre) thanks the Port Talbot RNLI crew which saved his life
Aberavon Sands The rescue took place off the coast at Aberavon

"I can swim but there is no way I would have been able to make it to the shore by myself.

"I never quite realised how a relaxing day at the seaside could go so wrong.

"I could have well been one of the drowning statistics - things could have been a lot worse."

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RNLI advice to holidaymakers and day-trippers includes:

  • Choosing beaches with lifeguards
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before swimming
  • Get used to cold temperatures in shallow water before going deeper
  • If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until free
  • Stay away from cliff edges when walking

Nicola Davies, RNLI coastal safety manager for Wales, said: "We're lucky to have an exceptional coastline around Wales but we want people to understand there are risks, and that they should not underestimate the power of the sea."

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