An analysis of lifejacket wear, environmental factors, and casualty activity on marine accident fatality rates
Drowning and fatalities at sea are a large concern globally. In the UK, many sea rescues are performed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and this study investigates 6 years’ worth of their rescue data to better understand causation of drowning and what makes an incident at sea high risk. A Poisson model is applied to numerous factors recorded as part of each rescue, including environmental conditions (visibility, sea state, etc.), lifejacket wear, and response times for rescue. Increased lifejacket wear is shown to be significantly correlated with lower fatality rates across all spectrum of activities. Survivability among those casualties wearing life jackets was 94%. A seasonal signal is clearly present, with a higher proportion of life at risk incidents occurring during winter months, and a higher than predicted number of fatalities during this time. The analysis identifies high risk groups of beach/sea users, with one of the most at risk being people fishing from shore. Incident survivability is shown to decrease at different rates per activity, as time to rescue increases. This study provides clear evidence that a co-ordinated approach to sea safety is required, and suggests that increased lifejacket wear among coastal and marine users would have a dramatic effect on reducing the number of drowning related deaths each year.