Respect the water warning issued a year after tragedy

By Alex Jones in Emergency Services

THE RNLI has issued a warning to Respect the Water one year after two teenagers tragically lost their lives off the coast of Barmouth.

Close friends Yahye Omar Mohamed, 14, and Waseem Muflahi, 15, were both visiting the Meirionnydd coast from Birmingham on 7 August last year when they got into difficulties in their first ever sea swim.

Sadly, both teenagers drowned that day despite the best efforts of the RNLI, Beach Wardens and onlookers.

Coastal death figures released recently by the RNLI show more people die at the Welsh coast in August than in any other month of the year.

Yet, worryingly, research from the charity shows less than one-fifth (17 per cent) of the UK population say they would call 999 immediately to request help if they saw someone fall into open water.

The charity is reminding people to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency at the coast.

Over the past five years, there have been 16 deaths at the Welsh coast in August, including Yayhe and Waseem, which is more than in any other month.

Last August, RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards in Wales saved the lives of 36 people (37 per cent of all the lives they saved in 2016).

As part of the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, the charity is calling on the public to help save more lives during this busy August period by remembering and sharing key survival skills.

Helen Church, RNLI community safety partner for Wales, said: “With summer holidays upon us and hopefully some hot weather, our fantastic beaches are naturally a draw for many people – but sadly this also means more people tragically losing their lives or getting into serious danger at the coast.

“We need to start a national conversation that encourages people to fight their instincts around water, so we are asking people to remember and share two skills.

“The first is, if you see someone else in trouble, don’t go into the water yourself as you may also end up in serious danger. Instead, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

“The second is, if you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard or thrash about as this could lead to drowning.

“Instead, relax and float on your back, keeping your airway clear, for around 60–90 seconds.”

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