Irish Coast Guard and RNLI urge people to Respect the Water over festive season

Lifeboats News Release

The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint safety message for the festive season to remind people to stay safe when they are in or near the water over the holiday period and to remember some basic safety advice, to use if they see someone in trouble or get into difficulty themselves.

RNLI Lifeboat at Sea

RNLI/Nigel Millard

RNLI Lifeboat at Sea

Speaking ahead of the Holiday period Gerard O’Flynn Coast Guard Operations Manager said, ‘Many people will be engaging in outdoor activities along the coastline,

The simple safety message is; Stay Back, Stay High, Stay Dry.

Christmas Day swims are a popular pursuit and we would urge the public to only participate in organised swims where medical support and lifeguards are available.

The three Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centres based in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, along with the Coast Guard Helicopter service and Coast Guard Volunteer units will remain operational over the holiday period. And we would remind the public that if you see anybody in danger at sea, on the coast or on cliffs to call 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.”

RNLI Head of Engagement, Gareth Morrison said, ‘On behalf of everyone in the RNLI; our lifeboat crews, our shore based support teams and our staff, we wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas. Our volunteer lifeboat crews remain on call over the Christmas period but what would really make them happy is if everyone has a safe Christmas.’

‘At this time of year a lot of people take part in charity swims and the water temperature is a lot lower than in the summer months. The RNLI lifeboat crews launch to a lot of people who never expected to end up in the water when they left the house. Callouts can be to people getting cut off from the tide, to slips or falls while walking near the coastline. We run our drowning prevention campaign ‘Respect the Water’ all year round and ask people to follow some simple advice and know what to do in an emergency. Further information is also available at

If you fall into cold water, follow the FLOAT message:

People follow the same instinct when in cold water - they gasp, thrash about and swim hard. But this increases chances of water entering your lungs and increases strain on your heart.

If this happens, fight your instinct and FLOAT. The initial shock will pass quite quickly within 60–90 seconds and when you have regained control of your breathing, you can then try swimming to safety or calling for help. You’ll have a far better chance of staying alive.

If you see someone in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

If out for a walk remember:

Be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside. Slips and falls happen in all locations; it is not just high cliff edges that are a risk.
Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
Take care when walking in dark and slippery conditions.
Always take a means of calling for help.
Always check the weather and tides.

If taking part in a swim, always:

Take your time to slowly walk into the sea to allow your body time to acclimatise. Stay in the shallow water when you first go in to reduce the severity of cold water shock.


Note for Editor: Dun Laoghaire RNLI will be holding their annual commemoration for those who lost their lives at sea. The short ceremony will be held at the end of the East Pier at 12 noon on Christmas Eve and will feature lifeboat crew laying wreaths at sea to remember loved ones. Representatives from the RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard Dun Laoghaire stations will be present. This year the crew of Rescue 116 will be specially remembered at the ceremony.

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For more information please contact Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 / 01 8900 460 email or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer rel="noopener noreferrer" Tel: 087 6483547 email:

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.