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Water Safety Appeal from Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland

Lifeboats News Release

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal as people are expected to enjoy the water this bank holiday weekend.

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Valentia RNLI

Even in good weather, water temperatures remain cold, and the organisations have advised that those taking part in any water-based activity should make sure they have the proper equipment and know how to do it safely.

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland advise to always carry a means of calling for help and to keep it within reach at all times. When kayaking or paddleboarding close to shore, conditions can turn quickly and wearing a buoyancy aid or lifejacket can make the critical difference. If you unexpectedly find yourself in the water and are wearing a lifejacket, you have given yourself vital time to be brought to safety.

While the good weather is set to continue, always check the forecast, tide times and sea conditions before setting off. Get regular updates if planning to be out for any length of time. And be prepared to change your plans or cancel the trip if the forecast is unfavourable.

For those swimming, remember to acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swim cap, and consider a tow float to increase visibility. Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague. Swim in areas that are lifeguarded or are known locally to be safe.

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard Operations manager said: ‘We appeal to everybody to plan for and attend to their personal safety. We again are warning on the dangers of using inflatable toys such as lilos on or near the water, be it seaside, lake, or river. Please do not bring such items with you. We express our thanks to all members of the emergency services who will be on duty over the weekend, in particular volunteer members of the Coast Guard, RNLI, community inshore rescue boats and mountain rescue teams. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.’

Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI Water Safety Lead, said: ‘The fine weather and brighter evenings will encourage more people onto the water and it’s great to see people out and about and enjoying it.

‘If you fall into the water unexpectedly, remember to Float to Live – tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat. It's ok if your legs sink, we all float differently. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.

‘Taking a few minutes to check you have taken all the necessary equipment and advice for your activity and knowing what to do in an emergency will give peace of mind and help prevent accidents.’

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO said: ‘This weekend, please remember that although air temperatures have risen, our waterways are still too cold for extended swims. A full moon on Saturday will make the coastline more precarious and rip currents will be stronger. Swim within your depth at the lifeguarded waterways listed at www.watersafety.ie/lifeguards/. A full moon also creates lower low tides that will expose even greater areas of the coastline which often tempts walkers to explore sandbanks. Be aware of being trapped by incoming tides, carry a fully charged mobile phone, and please provide constant uninterrupted adult supervision for any children in your care.’

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or you think that they are in trouble, dial 112 or use marine VHF radio Channel 16 and ask for the Coast Guard

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland wish also to express their condolences to the families and friends of the two young men who lost their lives in jet ski accidents in Carlingford Lough and on Lough Derg in county Clare.

Ends

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 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 by email.