THE RNLI has teamed up with British Canoeing to encourage people to make safety a priority before taking to the water.

The summer safety campaign is in response to figures showing the number of lives saved while kayaking or canoeing by RNLI crews more than doubled last year in comparison to 2021. Stand up paddleboarding has continued to increase in popularity as last year, RNLI lifeboat crews saw a 21% rise in launches to paddleboarders across the UK and Ireland, in comparison to 2021.

Samantha Hughes, RNLI Water Safety Partner, said: ‘The best way to enhance your time on the water is to have a stand-up paddleboard lesson.

‘You will learn useful techniques including tips to help you get back on the board. You’ll also develop your skills and knowledge of how to understand the environment such as wind and tidal information. This will set you up for future paddling.

‘We’ve seen a huge rise in incidents to paddleboarders over the last few years and a significant number are to people who have been blown or swept out to sea. If you find yourself in difficulty at the coast, please call 999 and ask for the coastguard.’

Their safety advice is to:

  • Wear a buoyancy aid or personal flotation device.
  • Carry a means of communication to call for help in an emergency.
  • Check the weather before heading out.
  • Tell others of your plans so they know when you will be returning.
  • Paddle within your ability.

The Anglesey coastline in Wales has become a mecca for people wanting to take to the sea and experience these popular activities, but local RNLI crews are encouraging people to heed by their advice.

Volunteer RNLI lifeboat launched 18 times last year to people partaking in paddle sport activities compared with eight incidents in 2021. RNLI lifeboat crews spent over 108 hours at sea in 2022 helping people who got into trouble whilst enjoying a trip out on the coast.

Vince Jones, RNLI mechanic at Moelfre says they have been inundated with calls to stand-up paddleboarders in particular. He says:

‘We want people to enjoy our stunning coastline but are urging people to think carefully before setting out. Many of our calls are to people being blown out to sea in offshore winds. We ask people to think carefully about the weather and tides before setting off and ensuring they have a means of calling for help.’

Lee Pooley, Director of Coaching & Qualifications at British Canoeing says:

‘Whether you are kayaking, canoeing or stand up paddleboarding it is extremely important no matter what your experience is to follow some simple steps to keep yourself and others safe when out on the water.

‘Paddlesport is such an accessible and fun activity with significant benefits to mental and physical wellbeing. The UK has some outstanding waterways and coastline to explore, we just want everyone to take care and be safe whilst they enjoy their paddle.

‘Working alongside the RNLI and other stakeholders including manufacturers, retailers, Delivery Partners and Clubs we want to ensure our five simple messages are remembered and considered before anyone ventures out onto the water.

‘We are keen to get as many organisations involved as possible, to extend our reach and engagement to ensure that those getting out onto the water paddle safely.’

Find information on how to stay safe during paddlesports, click here.