The Irish Coast Guard and RNLI are urging people who will be spending time on or near the water during the Easter break to take note of the relevant water safety advice for their activity.
The call comes as the Easter break falls early this year and recent call outs for the search and rescue resources have seen a noted increase in requests to assist walkers cut off by the tide and people getting into difficulty while engaging in open water swimming.
Both organisations emphasise the importance of adherence with Government guidelines on 5 km travel and other Covid related restrictions. With many people who live near the coast, exercising on or alongside the water, the Coast Guard and the RNLI are requesting the public to be cautious when engaging in any coastal or water-based activity. Despite some recent warm weather, sea temperatures remain at their coldest this time of year. Also, cliff top areas may have been subject to erosion or other local weather-related changes and care should be taken when walking there.
Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety manager, said: ‘We are asking people to think about their own safety. Coastal areas and our inland waterways provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember that while air temperatures may be warming up in Spring and early Summer, water temperatures remain dangerously cold between 8-10°, increasing the risk of cold water shock. And, if you are out for a walk on the beach, make sure to check the tide times to avoid being cut off by a rising tide.’
Irish Coast Guard, Head of Operations Gerard O’Flynn added: ‘The past year has seen an increase in activities such as open water swimming, and incidents relating to use of inflatable toys which are unsuitable for open water. Please always be mindful of your personal safety and always ensure that you have a means of communication should you get into difficulty.’
Water safety advice from the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI:
When kayaking and paddle boarding always carry a means of calling for help, such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
Whenever going afloat, wear an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket.
For open water swimmers and dippers, acclimatise slowly and always be visible
Check weather forecasts, tidal conditions, never swim alone and ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague onshore.
Take care if walking or running near cliffs – know your route and keep dogs on a lead
Carry a fully charged phone
If you get into trouble in the water, FLOAT – fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, Dial 112 or 999 or use VHF radio and ask for the Coast Guard.