Lifeboat crews in Sunderland have been the busiest in the north of England in the past year, according to new figures out today.
The city’s RNLI inshore lifeboats were launched on 100 occasions in 2016.
The next highest area was Blackpool, in Lancashire, which launched its boats 84 times, while North East neighbour Tynemouth saw its RNLI crews launch 75 times.
As the Easter holidays approach, and in a bid to reduce this year’s rescue statistics, the charity is now urging people to take extra care when spending time at the coast.
Paul Nicholson, helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said: “Once again 2016 has been an extremely busy year for our volunteer lifeboat crews, launching to assist others on 100 occasions.
“These statistics highlight the amount of dedication and commitment our volunteers put into being part of the RNLI; when they have to also spend at least four hours a week training to keep their skills in top condition.
“Another vital link in the rescue chain is our supporters who continue to provide funding to allow our charity to function.
“Without their continued support these rescues would simply not be able to take place.”
Nationally, the number of lifeboat launches around the coast has increased from 2015, to 8,851 in 2016 (a five-year high) and lifeguard incidents are also at an increase from last year to 17,414.
Darren Lewis, RNLI lifesaving manager said: “The figures show immense dedication by our volunteer lifesavers, but the increase in lifeboat launches and incidents dealt with by our lifeguards highlights the need for people to be extra vigilant in or around water.
“Our charity promotes safety messages all year round via interactive campaigns such as Respect the Water and Hit the Surf.
“Through these initiatives we have equipped thousands of people with invaluable lifesaving tips.”
The 2016 statistics also show in the north of England an increase of lifeboat launches to people who got into difficulty ashore, with incidents going up almost 16% from 240 in 2015, to 278 in 2016.
The RNLI says this highlights how people need to take extra care on coastal walks or whilst walking their dogs near the sea.
“With Easter just around the corner, it’s the ideal time to remind people that to have an enjoyable time at the coast, they need to treat it with respect,” added Mr Lewis.