New figures show 19 people drowned on the Welsh coast last year – WalesOnline

Nineteen people lost their lives around the Welsh coast last year – but over two-thirds (68 per cent) didn’t even set out to enter the water, said the RNLI.

Latest figures from the charity also show that the number of near-misses was even higher, with the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards in Wales saving 84 lives in 2014.

The five-year figures show an average of 18 people die around Wales’s coast each year.

Related: Tributes paid to ‘heroic’ pensioner who died after rescue of two girls in sea off Welsh coast

Women less likely to drown

Men are far more prone to getting into danger at the coast than women – accounting for almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of the deaths over a five-year period.

The figures are revealed as the charity today launches its 2015 national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, warning people that coastlines and waters can be dangerously unpredictable.

life boat
RNLI life boat

The charity is releasing two hard-hitting campaign films, which will be shown in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from Friday, July 10.

Related: RNLI warning after five people pulled from water in separate incidents at Pembrokeshire beaches

Unpredictable waters

The campaign is being launched by Jerome Kirby, from Cardiff, who got into trouble in the water while body boarding at Rest Bay in Porthcawl, Bridgend.

Jerome, 27, was caught out by a rip current and drifted out of his depth while body-boarding and is now warning others about the unpredictable nature of the sea.

Porthcawl RNLI volunteer Chris Page, rescued bodyboarder Jerome Kirby and RNLI volunteer Chris Missen. They are pictured next to the tonne of water at Cardiff Bay.

He was rescued after RNLI volunteer Chris Page spotted him and swam out to keep him afloat until he could be brought to safety

Mr Page said Mr Kirby appeared to be in “a lot of difficulty”.

Related: Watch the moment injured sailor is winched to safety near Tenby after joint RAF and RNLI operation

“Always go into the sea with someone or ensure someone can see you at all times,” he said.

“What happened to Jerome shows the unpredictable nature of the water. Thankfully, my story had a happy ending.”.

Of the 89 people who died over the past five years, more than half (57 per cent) were taking part in activities like walking, running, climbing and boating and were, therefore, unlikely to have intended to be in the water. Over the past five years, slips and falls while walking and running contributed to the most coastal deaths in Wales, accounting for 31 per cent (28).

‘Respect the Water’

Swimming, jumping in and general leisure use accounted for 25 per cent (22) of the coastal deaths in Wales over the five-year period; angling eight percent (seven), and commercial use seven per cent (six).

“The RNLI is aiming to halve the number of coastal deaths by 2024,” said a spokeswoman.

Porthcawl RNLI volunteers training in casualty care

“The charity’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, is this year warning people – particularly adult men – to be aware of the dangers of the coastline, as well as the water itself.”

In the Cardiff area the RNLI and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWRFS) are also running a joint ‘Get a taxi not our boat’ safety campaign encouraging people to find a safe journey home.

Then on Friday, July 17 the team will hit St Mary Street in Cardiff city centre to promote the ‘Get a taxi not our boat’ message between 6pm and 9pm.

Those interested in finding out more about the dangers of the coast can visit the Respect the Water website and see for themselves at or search #RespectTheWater on social media.

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