The role Whitby sculptures are playing in helping to save lives at sea

Sculptures around Whitby are helping to play an important role in raising awareness around the importance of wearing a lifejacket when out on the water.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 3:15 pm

Clothing and sports manufacturer Helly Hansen and members of the RNLI are concerned at survey results which show that nearly half of UK boaters don’t wear a Personal Flotation Device when on the water.

Every year, around 150 people die at the coast around the UK and Ireland; last year, the RNLI launched over 8,000 times to those in need of help.

Some of the sculptures on the £55,000 heritage trail, by Whitby artist Emma Stothard, were dressed with lifejackets to raise the importance of safety at sea.

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Whitby sculptures dressed in Helly Hansen lifejackets to promote the importance of safety at sea.

The sculptures depict thetown's fishing heritage.

Findings from their survey

Less than half (47.6%) of respondents think that you should always wear a lifejacket when sailing no matter your age.

17% thought it was acceptable to not wear one from 13 years old.

Whitby sculptures dressed in Helly Hansen lifejackets to promote the importance of safety at sea.

64% said that when they were learning to sail, there were occasions when they were made to wear a lifejacket when more experienced members of the group didn’t – this was higher for the younger generation at 72.22% for 18–24-year-olds and much lower for the older generation at 29.55% for 55+

Simple advice - always wear a lifejacket

Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI said: “Our advice is simple – always wear a lifejacket when you’re on the water, as accidents can and do happen to anyone, regardless of your experience or ability.

"The results in this survey are worrying as they show people are putting their lives at risk, with many thinking the advice to wear a lifejacket doesn’t apply to them.

Whitby sculptures dressed in Helly Hansen lifejackets to promote the importance of safety at sea.

"Our brave volunteers rescue thousands of people every year, and unfortunately at times witness first-hand the effects that losing someone to drowning has on their loved ones.

"Research has proven that wearing a lifejacket can increase your chances of survival by up to four times if you’re immersed in cold water.

"Whatever your activity and whatever level of experience you have, wearing a well-fitted, well-maintained and suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid could save your life.”

Pip Hare, professional sailor and Helly Hansen ambassador, added: “Cold water shock can affect everyone.

"Even if you are an experienced sailor or a very confident swimmer, cold water shock causes an uncontrollable reaction which elevates your heart rate and breathing.

"This can lead to breathing in water and potentially drowning and it can affect even the fittest of people. Wearing a lifejacket with the correct buoyancy is vital to survival.”