Exmouth RNLI Sea Safety Officer
Peter Williams, Exmouth’s new Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer (LSSO) has been visiting user clubs up and down the Exe estuary, promoting the importance of wearing lifejackets at sea.
On Friday March 20th, he visited Lympstone Sailing Club with presenter Tony Watson, Sea Safety Officer (LSSO) and Lifeboat Press Officer (LPO) for Teignmouth RNLI. Members of the club brought their own lifejackets to be checked over and some were quite surprised to discover various faults that could impair effective operation. These included gas cylinders (used to self- inflate lifejackets) found to be corroded and in need of replacing.
Tony Watson commented: “We are still surprised at the number of lifejackets that are not regularly checked over by their owners – currently about 1 in 4 lifejackets brought to one of our lifejacket clinics show signs of deterioration, and as many as 1 in 20 might not inflate in an emergency. The regular inspection of lifejackets is as essential as the regular wearing of one – accidents usually happen without warning”.
Joining the evening was Peter’s daughter Arriane, who modelled a Crewsaver lifejacket – demonstrating the correct procedures fitting, automatic and manual inflation.
Peter advised checking lifejackets periodically for wear and tear, to inflate the jacket at least once a year and leave overnight to check for any leaks. He also recommends lifejackets are serviced once a year by a qualified service centre. He said; “We found at this clinic there were two lifejackets that were only a year old, brought from the same supplier, in which the gas cylinder on one wasn’t even connected and the other was loose.” He added; “ It’s so easy to think that lifejackets will always work, but in an emergency it’s too late to discover that they need servicing and checking.”
Mike Gall, Commodore of Lympstone Sailing Club, found the evening very useful and is an advocate of wearing a lifejacket. He said: “The importance of wearing a life jacket was rammed home for me during my involvement in the search and recovery of a drowned sailor from a seal loch in Scotland. It was the classic scenario of an experienced sailor who became complacent and failed to make an effective transfer from tender to yacht under flat calm conditions. I was a Scout at the time. He left a wife and two young children.”
Peter Williams took up the post of LSSO in 2008. He originally joined the RNLI in 1999, working as a Sea Safety Checker for three years. He has sailed from the Exe for many years, and has worked as a training outdoor pursuits instructor in dinghy sailing. If you would like Peter to visit your organisation to explain the RNLI Sea Safety Initiative, please contact him on 07970 045568.