RNLI volunteers on Christmas standby

24 December 2018, 11:26 | Updated: 24 December 2018, 11:28

Mawgan Porth Rescue RNLI Lifeboat

Not everyone will be putting their feet up and enjoying plenty of festive food and drink.

South West RNLI volunteers remain on call throughout Christmas and the New Year to help those in need.

Over the last decade RNLI volunteers across the country have saved 35 lives over the festive period, launching 1078 times and aiding 488 people. Of those launches 96 took part on Christmas Day, taking crews away from family celebrations to help save others.

In the south west last year RNLI volunteers from stations around the region launched their lifeboats 25 times. In the last 10 years there were 159 launches, with 74 people aided and three lives saved.

James Millidge, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: 'We are very proud of our thousands of volunteers who will not think twice about missing their Christmas dinner and festive celebrations to answer the pager to somebody in need. The commitment and dedication they show every day is incredible and enables the RNLI to make a significant impact in saving lives at sea. We wish our crews and all our volunteers a happy and peaceful Christmas with their loved ones.''

With many people marking this time of year with a walk along the coast, a bracing swim, or a party, the RNLI's message is to enjoy the celebrations, but stay safe.

Walking by the coast or along rivers is a very popular activity at Christmas and is usually very safe, but slips and falls from walking and running are the biggest cause of death on our coast. If you are planning a walk, be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside. Slips and falls happen in all locations, not just high cliff edges. Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back and take a means of calling for help. Getting cut off by the tide is a common cause of lifeboat launches so always check the weather and tide timetables before you go.

For thousands up and down the coast, a festive dip in the sea is part of a Christmas tradition. RNLI lifeboat stations, community groups and charities have organised dips for Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day from their local beaches. Anyone wishing to get in the sea is encouraged to take part in one of the many organised events around the region.

James added: ''The festive dip is now a firm family favourite in the calendar as many brave swimmers take the plunge year after year with their families and friends over the holidays. We want to remind people that over winter the sea is at its coldest! We want everyone to enjoy the water but make sure they are aware of what do to if they or their fellow swimmers do get into trouble. Before going in, we urge people to remember the risks of cold water shock and what to do if it happens to them. The simple act of floating could save a life.''

Find more advice here.