SIX people died in Dorset last year as a result of coastal fatalities, as the RNLI launches a new drowning awareness campaign.

Figures for Dorset show that in 2013 there were six coastal fatalities, compared to 13 in 2012, five in 2011 and nine in 2010.

These are fatalities at the coast and not just incidents of drowning, a spokesman for the charity said. The figures come from the National Water Safety Forum's Water Incident Database.

Across the South West coastal area 32 people lost their lives last year.

The RNLI has now launched its major new drowning awareness campaign, Respect the Water, warning people to stay safe.

Alcohol is a contributing factor in around one-fifth of coastal deaths, the RNLI revealed, with adult men accounting for over two-thirds of coastal deaths.

The charity also claims that more people die at the coast each year than are killed in cycling accidents.

And it's not just water-based activities which put people in danger- slips and falls are a common issue, with cold water shock being a 'significant danger.'

The RNLI is launching the campaign with the aim of halving accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

James Millidge, the RNLI's Coastal Safety Manager in the south west, said: “With more people losing their lives at the coast each year than are killed in cycling accidents, we're trying to make people, particularly men, realise that they are at risk from drowning if they don't follow some basic but important safety advice.

“Of course we want people to go to the coast and enjoy it - we're lucky to have some exceptional coastline around the south west - but we want people to understand there are risks, and that they should not underestimate the power of the sea.”