August is the deadliest month along Britain’s coastline and holidaymakers are being warned to take extra care on the beach.
Some 122 people have died at sea during the month of August in the last five years, according to the RNLI.
During the summer months, people often get into danger when lilos drift too far out to sea, some get stuck in riptides and “tombstoning”, where people jump from cliffs or sea walls into the sea below.
The RNLI is urging anyone who sees someone fall into open water to call the emergency services straight away, although latest figures suggest that only a fifth of the population would actually do so.
Last year saw 31 coastal deaths in the UK in the month of August, which is up 55% on the year before.
Five of those deaths were at Camber Sands in East Sussex, where a group of friends got into difficulty.
An inquest heard that Ken Saththiyanathan, 18, his brother Kobi, 22, and their friends Nitharsan Ravi, 22, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23 and Gurushanth Srithavarajah, 27, were competent swimmers, but there were hidden dangers below the water’s surface.
An RNLI coastal safety manager told Sky News: “With summer holidays upon us and hopefully some hot weather, our fantastic beaches are naturally a draw for many people – but sadly this also means more people tragically losing their lives or getting into serious danger at the coast.
“The drownings that happened last August go to show how quickly a day of fun at the beach can turn into tragedy, so we are calling on the public to help us save lives this summer.”
The RNLI station at Weston-super-Mare is one of the busiest in the country. Last year the team had 56 callouts and saved 13 lives. Experts there said people are often unaware that there could sometimes be thick mud on beaches, which could trap people when the tides turned quickly.
Although temperatures during the summer months can be warm, the sea in Britain isn’t usually higher than 15C, which is cold enough to trigger cold water shock.
If that happens, the warning is to fight your instincts. Rather than trying to swim hard or trash about, you should try and float for just over a minute to catch your breath, before swimming to safety or calling for help.
Anyone planning a trip to the beach is advised to choose one with lifeguards and to swim between the red and yellow flags.