Please select your home edition
Henr-Lloyd 2021 For the love of foul weather LEADERBOARD

Eleven drowning deaths hit-home the importance of lifejacket-wear

by Samantha Sinclair, MCA 3 Jul 2019 06:13 BST
Scottish Infographic © Maritime and Coastguard Agency

11 people, who drowned in 2018, might be alive today had they been wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. This is one of the main findings of this year's Casualty Review Panel [1] who met earlier this year to discuss last year's maritime fatalities.

The Panel reviewed 22 fatalities from 2018 and agreed that 11 lives [2] could have been saved if they had been wearing a lifejacket. This figure is slightly lower than last year's figure of 13 lives (out of 27 fatalities).

In the twelve years that the Panel has been meeting, is has recorded that 200 lives could have been saved by wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid.

The majority of incidents last year involved commercial fishermen (including accidents at fish farms) and anglers, many of which happened in Scottish Sea Lochs.

The Panel's overriding advice was to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid appropriate to your activity which is proven to greatly improve your chances of surviving the shock of entering cold water. The Panel also recommended an additional package of measures to keep you safe for your activity.

  • Carrying a VHF DSC radio and knowing how to use it to contact the Coastguard or other vessels
  • Carrying a PLB or EPIRB [3] will help rescuers to locate you and even if you're unconscious the alarm will be raised.
  • Downloading the RYA SafeTrx app [4] on your phone and using it in an emergency could make all the difference.
  • Wearing appropriate clothing and carrying the right safety equipment for your sport, particularly rock anglers and sport fishermen wading in slippery rivers.
  • Making sure your equipment is properly fitted, for example wearing a lifejacket with a crotch strap attached. This advice comes after the panel looked at a case where a yachtsman died because he was wearing a lifejacket that was not properly fitted, had ridden up and was not keeping his head above water.
Maritime Safety Week is focusing on important safety issues such as lifejacket wear this year. Tomorrow (Wednesday 3 July) as part of this, Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani MP will be meeting with other ministers and the fishing industry to talk about fishing vessel safety.

[1] The Casualty Review Panel comprises representatives from: Angling Trust, RNLI, Royal Yachting Association, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, National Water Safety Forum, British Canoe Union, the lifejacket industry, Scottish Fishermen's Federation and University of Portsmouth. The panel uses data supplied from Coastguard and MAIB databases and therefore covers mostly coastal incidents. Other inland fatal angling incidents, where a lifejacket might have saved a life may have occurred during 2018 but these are not included for this exercise.

[2] These figures refers to those people who probably or possibly could have been saved had they been wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. Where it would have been appropriate for a person to be wearing buoyancy, this was recorded.

[3] Personal Location Beacon or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon

[4] You can get more information about RYA SafeTrx and where to download it here: RYA SafeTrx app