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RNLI crew members carrying out a rescue. Shot from above.

Lifeboat crew volunteer warns swimmers to take care

A volunteer lifeboat crew member at one of the busiest lifeboat centres in the country has insisted people need to respect the water as the weather heats up.

As the weather gets warmer, more and more people will be tempted to swim in the Thames, but Gianna Saccomani, who also works for RNLI Teddington as their press officer, explained these swims can become suddenly dangerous. 

Saccomani said: “Sadly, not every shout has a happy ending.”

On 31st May, a lifeboat crew had to assist a teenager who disappeared suddenly under the water while swimming in the Thames.

Luckily he resurfaced and the RNLI were able to help him to safety. 

EARLY MORNING PAGE: The Teddington Lifeboat team always need to stand ready for action

Saccomani explained that people fail to realise that the river’s water is still cold under the warmer top layer, even in hot weather. 

This can lead to cold water shock, when blood rushes to the body’s core to protect it and often individuals cannot swim any further, which quickly becomes dangerous for even the strongest of swimmers. 

RNLI promote the Float to Live campaign, which encourages swimmers in difficulty to float on their back if possible when they find themselves in danger and then try and work out how to get out of the water. 

In the period between January and May, there was a 50% increase in the amount of shouts Teddington received compared to last year, with the figure increasing from 22 to 37.

Saccomani went on to explain how RNLI tries to work with local schools and engage with children as they often don’t understand the dangers of water. 

IDYLLIC BUT DANGEROUS: River swimming can be more risky than it appears

Saccomani first became involved with RNLI after she received a leaflet through her letterbox.

She said: “I used to think for years that I couldn’t be lifeboat crew because I’m a woman.

“But now we have five female crew at Teddington lifeboat station.”

In order to become a volunteer you have to live within two to three minutes of the lifeboat centre in order to qualify, so you can respond quickly to calls.

As a charity, RNLI rely on donations and you can donate to the Twickenham, Teddington and District RNLI crew here.

If you see anyone in difficulty in the water, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.  

Featured Image credit: Paul A’Barrow via flickr

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