The RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard are issuing a joint call this May Bank Holiday weekend for people to stay safe on and near water as the expected warmer weather and brighter evenings will see more people spending time outdoors.
The maritime organisations caution that an improvement in the weather does not mean warmer water temperatures and people should make sure they apply common sense and observe basic safety precautions when engaged in any activity either at sea or along the coast.
While the temperatures increase, Irish waters rarely exceed 15C, making them cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock, which causes the instinctive reaction to gasp and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning. Over half of accidental coast drownings happen to people who never though they would end up in the water and are not prepared for an emergency.
The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI are asking people to take the time to check that they have all essential safety equipment and that is fully serviced and that anybody who needs to use it knows what to do.
*Always wear the correct equipment for your activity and always wear a lifejacket or proper personal floatation equipment.
*The RNLI and Coast Guard recommend attaching a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to your Lifejacket or Personal Floatation Device. The small devices are worn on your person and can send a distress message to the Coast Guard from any location.
*Always tell another person where you are going and when you will be back.
*If you see someone get into difficulty dial 112 or 999 and ask for the Coast Guard. If possible look for something that floats or that they can hold on to and throw it out to them.
*Check that all your safety equipment is working and fully serviced.
Sean Dillon, RNLI Lifesaving Manager said: ‘The May bank holiday is traditionally a time when a lot of people get out and enjoy the coastline and our beautiful loughs and lakes. Last year Irish lifeboat crews launched 1,145 times to all types of incidents. The RNLI’s ‘Respect the Water’ campaign will be running throughout the summer but drowning prevention should be carried out year round.’
Gerard O’Flynn, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager added: “If you are getting into a boat our message is ‘Stay afloat – Stay in contact’. Always wear a PFD or Lifejacket and ensure that you can raise the alarm if you need assistance be that by marine VHF radio, mobile phone or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), which will enable responders to quickly locate and assist you.”