Rescuers are reminding people that staying calm and floating can help save those struggling in water.
Officials at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) say seven people have claimed that ‘floating’ helped to save their lives in 2017 after the charity advocated this as a key survival skill last summer.
Figures show that 22 people lost their lives along the North East and East coastline last year.
As part of the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, now in its fifth year, the charity is urging anyone who finds themselves in trouble to stay calm and float to regain control of their breathing.
Nick Ayers, RNLI community safety partner, said: “Losing someone to drowning is a shattering experience so I am very pleased several people said the RNLI’s Respect the Water ‘float’ advice helped them survive in a dangerous situation in the water last year.
“We are hopeful that our safety campaigning and education work will contribute to a reduction in coastal deaths, but we cannot get complacent.”
Evan Chrisp, 16, from Gateshead, says floating helped save his life after getting into difficulty at Beadnell Bay, Northumberland.
He said: “I was jumping over waves with friends and got swept out to sea. I tried to fight the water and swim hard, but I quickly realised this wasn’t working.
“I remembered the RNLI’s advice to float on my back and this helped me catch my breath and calm down before then trying to swim to safety.”
He added: “Thankfully I made it to a nearby yacht. My Dad had watched me get in to trouble from the shore and had called 999 for the Coastguard. Ultimately I think the RNLI’s advice to float saved my life.”