'Worrying trend' of male runners dying after slipping into sea, RNLI figures reveal

Three times more runners and walkers died accidentally falling into the sea than swimmers, new figures from the RNLI reveal.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 7:00 am
More runners and walkers die in the sea than swimmers, RNLI analysis shows

Slips, trips and falls by people out for a jog or a stroll accounted for 34 per cent (43) of tidal waters-related deaths last year.

In total 115 males died accounting for 90 per cent of fatalities. All five fatalities in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the North East were men.

In contrast 12 per cent (15) died while swimming, with 10 per cent (13) losing their lives while scuba diving.

More runners and walkers die in the sea than swimmers, RNLI analysis shows

RNLI Community Safety Partner Nick Ayers said: “A worrying trend shows men accounted for all of the fatalities along our coast last year, and the vast majority nationally.

“Many of them did not plan on entering the water, with slips, trips and falls catching them unaware while out running or walking.”

Why has it involved so many men?

The RNLI said: "We can’t say for certain why men account for a large proportion of coastal deaths, but it could be argued that men find risk-taking more exciting, which could suggest they are more prone to taking risks at the coast.

"It could also be said that men are more likely to be influenced by peer pressure into unsafe behaviour."

According to their Watersports Participation Survey there is also evidence to suggest men are more likely to be water sports enthusiasts, which increases their time in or around the water and therefore the associated risk.

Mr Ayers said knowing what to do in the event of falling into cold water could make the difference between life and death.

They are advising people to fight the natural instinct to thrash about and instead relax, lie on their back and float, until regaining control of their breathing.

The figures for the North East and Yorkshire region are down by over half the previous year (5,2018; 12,2017) while nationally coastal deaths were higher (128,2018;109,2017). However

2018 is the second consecutive year to show a lower than average figure.

Mr Ayers said: “Many of the tragic deaths at the coast can be avoided if people understand the risks and prepare themselves by practising the Float technique.

“It’s encouraging for us at the charity to see the number of coastal fatalities fall below average for the second year running, and we’re hopeful our education work is contributing to this downward trend.”

The RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign will run this summer with advertising across cinema, radio, online, and catch-up TV channels.