All coastal deaths in 2018 were men, RNLI reveals ahead of summer campaign to save lives

Figures released by life-saving charity the RNLI have found that while all coastal fatalities in 2018 fell, all of those who died in incidents were male.
RNLI volunteers out on the water.RNLI volunteers out on the water.
RNLI volunteers out on the water.

Five people lost their lives along the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and Lincolnshir coast in 2018, compared with 12 the previous year.

Nationally, coastal deaths were higher last year (128) compared to the 2017 figure (109), but 2018 is the second consecutive year to show a lower than average figure.

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The UK data also shows over half (55%) of those who died at the coast in 2018 ended up in the water unexpectedly – a figure that has remained consistent in recent years.

As the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water launches for 2019, the organisation is urging the public to take action and follow the following advice if they find themselves in trouble in cold water:

Fight your instinct to swim hard or thrash about – this can lead to breathing in water and drowning

Instead, relax and float on your back, until you have regained control of your breathing

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Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner, said: "No one should have to lose someone they love to drowning.

"Many of the tragic deaths at the coast can be avoided if people understand the risks and prepare themselves by practising the Float technique.

"It’s encouraging for us at the charity to see the number of coastal fatalities fall below average for the second year running, and we’re hopeful our education work is contributing to this downward trend.

"We’ve been contacted by people who say they recalled the Float safety message while in serious trouble in the water, and that following the RNLI’s advice helped save their life.

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"But we can’t get complacent, we all have a role in getting behind coastal safety education, investing in initiatives and sharing survival skills to help save lives from drowning."

He added: "A worrying trend shows men accounted for all of the fatalities along our coast last year, and the vast majority nationally.

"Many of them did not plan on entering the water, with slips, trips and falls catching them unaware while out running or walking.

"Knowing what to do if you fall into cold water can be the difference between life and death.

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"The instinctive human reaction when you fall into cold water can cause panic and gasping for breath, increasing the chances of breathing in water.

"Although it’s counter intuitive, the best immediate course of action is to fight your instinct and float on your back."

The Respect the Water campaign will run throughout the summer with advertising across cinema, outdoor posters, radio, online, and catch-up TV channels.

Advice on how to float is available at

On social media search #FloatToLive #RespectTheWater.