Paddleboarder's 999 call highlights coastal safety message

Paddleboarder's 999 call highlights coastal safety message

A dramatic 999 call made by a 17-year-old boy who fell from his paddleboard into the sea helps to promote coastal safety message.
Mobile phone in a waterproof pouch hanging from lanyard around the neck of a paddle boarder wearing a wetsuit

Paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing watersports and it’s not hard to see why – it’s a great way to enjoy the water and keep fit. But it’s so easy to get into trouble and even the most experienced paddleboarders can be caught out, as Sam found out.

Sam was wearing a lifejacket and had his mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when he took to the waters off Gwynedd.

"I'm really struggling," he said, as he fought against the waves to relay his rescue plea to a call handler while about 400m (1,300ft) off the coast.

He was advised to lay back and float on the waves while awaiting rescue.

The coastguard call handler can be heard telling Sam that RNLI volunteers from Abersoch Lifeboat Station and a coastguard helicopter had been sent to help him.

"Just keep breathing in and out slowly and just relax and you will float," said the call handler.

"Luckily, you are wearing your life-jacket."

Sam replies saying: "I'm starting to get very scared."

Call handler: "Please, please, please Sam don't panic at all. Stay on your back."

Sam is then heard to shout that he could see the helicopter before the RNLI footage showed the lifeboat crew pull him from the water. He was airlifted to hospital showing signs of hypothermia after the rescue. He was discharged the next day and he and his father visited the lifeboat station to thank staff.

"Taking a means of calling for help when heading out around the coast can make all the difference," the RNLI said.

We love the coast, and we want everyone to enjoy it safely and carefully.

Please note names have been changed to protect people's identities.


What are offshore winds and why are they dangerous?

Offshore winds are winds that are blowing in a direction out to sea. They can be especially dangerous for watersports as not only can they quickly pull a personal craft such as a paddleboard far out to sea, but they also make it extremely difficult to return to shore. Many people often confuse their name to mean that it’s only windy offshore, but this is not the case. 

If you’re taking to the water, or have recently taken up paddleboarding, here are some top tips that can help you to return home safely:

  • Check the weather before you head out – if you’re unsure for any reason, don’t go.
  • Check the tides before you set off and know what they mean – ensure you know if an incoming or outgoing tide would be best for your activity.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and what time you’re likely to be back.
  • Take a fully charged mobile phone, ideally in a waterproof pouch, so you can call 999 and ask for the coastguard if you need to. 
  • Consider a lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD).

In difficulty at the coast?

If you get into difficulty, see anyone struggling or notice anything unusual around the coast, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Simply call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

For more safety tips, head to our sea safety page.



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