RNLI warns holidaymakers to Respect the Water during August - the 'deadliest' of months

All of our content is approved by our in-house advisory board of experts

While most people come to the South Coast's beaches for some fun on the sand, to have a paddle, or play on the shoreline, little do they know that August witnesses more coastal deaths than any other month of the year.

  • RNLI stats show more beach deaths in August than any other month
  • Nearly half of annual RNLI lifeguard callouts are in August
  • If someone needs help in the water, call the Coastguard on 999
  • LV= works with RNLI on Bournemouth and Poole beaches with KidZone scheme

August can be a dangerous month in the water.

Worrying figures released by the RNLI show just how many fatalities there are in and around the coastline, and that only 17% of those surveyed would call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard if they saw someone fall into open water.

The number of near-fatal incidents is also highest in August, with the charity's lifeboat crews and lifeguards saving the most lives during this busy summer month. With summer holidays well underway, the charity is reminding people to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency at the coast. 

Last year, nearly one-fifth (19%) of the charity's annual lifeboat calls happened in August as well as nearly half (47%) of the annual lifeguard incidents.


There have been 26 deaths on the South-West coast during August over the last five years, and as part of their drowning prevention campaign - Respect the Water - the RNLI are asking for the public's help by following two simple steps:

  1. If someone is in the water and needs help, fight your instincts to go in after them and instead call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
  2. If you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard and thrash about. Instead, float for 60–90 seconds until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath before then swimming to safety or calling for help.

Anyone planning a trip to the beach is also advised by the RNLI to choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the two red and yellow flags – the area most closely monitored by the lifeguards.

If you are visiting Bournemouth or Poole's beaches this summer you can also take advantage of LV= KidZone. An initiative between LV=, Bournemouth Council, Dorset Police and the RNLI, LV= KidZone helps keep track of children. The scheme provides children with free colour-coded wristbands that correspond to clearly marked sections on the beach. Families write their contact numbers on the wristbands and sit in the marked sections to allow beach staff to reunite them if they accidentally get separated throughout the day. Staff work with the RNLI lifeguards, seafront services staff and local police to ensure lost children can be found as quickly as possible, and with minimal distress to them and their parents. 

Source for statistics:

Information correct as of April 2018.

This article contains links to other sites, and we're not responsible for the contents of any of these websites.