Always wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help.

More than a million people in the UK and Ireland enjoy angling - either from a boat or from the shore.

While angling might not seem like a particularly dangerous coastal sport, RNLI lifeboats were launched 661 times to anglers in 2015. The majority of angling fatalities were those fishing from areas of exposed shoreline. Many of these people might have been saved if they had been wearing a lifejacket and had taken a means of calling for help.

Get more tips on enjoying angling safely.

Watch: Colm Plunkett was fishing with his daughter when a rogue wave washed him into the sea. He credits his lifejacket for keeping him alive, and wants to encourage other anglers to wear a lifejacket.

What is the best means for calling for help? Here are some options:

Personal locator beacon (PLB)

A PLB can send a distress message to the Coastguard from anywhere in the world, providing there is a clear view of the sky. The Coastguard will launch the appropriate rescue service to your GPS position.

Things to consider:

  • Recognised emergency signal.
  • Manually activated only.
  • Must be registered.
  • Should always be on your person.
  • Not all PLBs inherently float.
  • Can also be used on land in areas where no phone signal is available.
  • Unit needs to be held out of water for it to transmit.
  • Transmits for 24 hours plus.

Mobile phone

Things to consider:

  • Keep your mobile in a waterproof pouch. You should wear this on your person so it’s within easy reach – it’s no use if you can’t reach it.
  • Smart phones can provide a location, but emergency calls should be made by voice (call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard). Text messages and map locations are often no use to the Coastguard.
  • The RYA SafeTrx app can be used to log, track and send alerts about your trip. Visit

Waterproof handheld VHF

A waterproof DSC VHF allows you to send a distress message with your location direct to the Coastguard with a single button push.

Things to consider:

  • If possible, buy a DSC-equipped radio (some are not). A DSC distress alert is a recognised emergency signal, and it also transmits your location.
  • Send a distress alert followed by a mayday voice call on Channel 16. This communicates the distress message to all vessels and shore stations in range.
  • Requires an operator’s licence, a ship’s portable radio or ship’s radio licence (free in the UK if requested online) and a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, which comes with the radio licence.

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