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Displaying items by tag: water safety

#WaterSafety - Shore angler Colm Plunkett, who credits his lifejacket with saving his life after he was swept into the sea earlier this year, is supporting a water safety campaign launched this week by the RNLI throughout Ireland and the UK.

Plunkett and the RNLI are urging all shore anglers to wear a lifejacket, which could buy them vital time should they end up in the water unexpectedly.

Between 2010 and 2014 there were 29 anglers rescued while fishing from rocks or the shoreline in Ireland and the charity’s lifeboats were launched 43 times to shore angling callouts.

According to research conducted by the RNLI, only 10% of shore anglers wear lifejackets. Yet an expert casualty review panel found that 81% of the fatalities reviewed between 2007 and 2013 could have been prevented had the casualties been wearing lifejackets.

The safety campaign advises: ‘Don’t be an amateur – wear a lifejacket.’

Irish angler Colm Plunkett is one of those who chose to wear his lifejacket – a decision which ultimately saved his life after he was swept from rocks while fishing at Dursey Sound on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork in August this year.

Plunkett and his daughter Orlaith are backing the campaign and have shared their story with the RNLI for the campaign.

"I was fishing when a rogue wave washed me into the sea," he recounts. "I spent the next 55 minutes fighting for my life. Fortunately I was with my 16-year-old daughter, who immediately called the coastguard. Upon entering the water my lifejacket automatically inflated and kept me on the surface of the sea.

"For the first 15 to 20 minutes I was swept by the current out to sea. I spent 30 minutes or so fighting to get air into my lungs while spitting sea water out of my mouth; as the waves broke over my head and the water ran down my face.

"Much to my relief, the current then pushed me back towards the land and to calmer waters. My state of exhaustion and oncoming hypothermia prevented me from reaching the shore but my daughter shouted to me that help was on the way and, for the first time my spirits rose."

Ten minutes later, he recalls, the inshore rescue boat from Derrynane, Co Kerry reached him. "I was brought to shore with a life-threatening low temperature and was taken to hospital by helicopter for further assessment and treatment.

"I am here solely because I wear a lifejacket. If you are not wearing a lifejacket, you are as good as dead."

There are some simple steps anglers can follow to keep themselves safe:

  • If fishing from the shoreline, wear a lifejacket.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • Carry a means of calling for help.

The campaign forms part of the RNLI’s work to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

Published in Water Safety

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney has said he is "very concerned" about revelations in the Guardian regarding widespread exploitation of migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry.

The minister released a short statement last night (Monday 2 November) just hours after the newspaper published its exposé of trafficked labour on trawlers throughout Ireland's fishing fleet.

The year-long undercover investigation by a team of Guardian journalists found evidence of undocumented labour on prawn and whitefish boats working from Ireland's biggest fishery harbours.

First-hand accounts from a number of these migrant fishermen – mainly from Ghana, the Philippines, Egypt and India – describe a "catalogue of abuses", including overwork, sleep deprivation, lack of safety training, withheld wages far below the Irish minimum, and being confined to their vessels when in port.

Sleep deprivation in particular has been linked to the Tit Bonhomme tragedy in January 2012, which took the lives of five of its six crew - two Irish, including the skipper, and four Egyptian, one of them the lone survivor.

Earlier this year the families of two of the deceased Egyptian fishermen reaches a settlement in the High Court over the incident – which the Guardian says was exacerbated by the absence of mandatory emergency drills in the months before, and the lack of enough lifesaving gear on board for the whole crew.

Lax safety protocols have also been claimed in the death of Filipino fisherman Joel Alama, who was overcome by fumes while attempting to rescue Irish colleague James Joyce, who also died, from their trawler's hold in Killybegs this past August.

What's more, it's believed that a number of migrant workers have been trafficked into working on boats in Ireland.

One Filipino fisherman claims he was contracted via an agency to work on a boat sailing from Belfast to Morocco, but on arrival was driven across Ireland to Crosshaven to fish in Irish waters without the necessary permits.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland this morning, one of the reporters on the story, food and farming journalist Ella McSweeney, spoke of exploitation of migrant labour being an "open secret" in the Irish fishing fleet.

She said this makes it doubly difficult for "good Irish trawler owners" to compete with boats that work illegally, not only by exploiting undocumented crew but also misreporting their logs and fishing beyond their grounds, among other shortcuts.

McSweeney added that the courts in Ireland have been "too lenient" in cases where exploitation has already come to light, and that the laws to prevent the situation are already there but are "not being enforced".

Morning Ireland also spoke to Grainne O'Toole of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, who called on the Government to introduce visa regularisation for trafficked workers "and ensure they they are able to reclaim the wages owed to them".

Dismissing criticisms that the State has been "turning a blind eye" to widespread abuses in the fishing fleet, Minister Coveney – who only last July welcomed a report on improving safety and welfare standards in the fishing industry – said the Department of Justice has confirmed a project, led by the Garda, "specifically to address concerns in relation to human trafficking in the maritime sector".

This project "aims to provide a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach the issue, involving a broad range of competent State agencies ... and civil society organisations."

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#BeachRescue - Irish Water Safety has posted a compilation video from last month's National Beach Rescue Championships, which took place at Spanish Point in Co Clare.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the beach at Spanish Point was among the safest in Ireland on Saturday 12 September as 152 lifeguards from nine counties vied for the President's Trophy - lifted this year by the lifesaving women of Clare Ladies.

The county also led in the men's surf rescue division, as all those taking part battled challenging open water conditions in a series simulated emergency rescue scenarios designed to test their swimming and rescue board skills.

More recently, Team Ireland's girls were crowed junior beach rescue champions at the European Junior & Masters Lifesaving Championships in Alicante at the end of September after a gruelling week of beach rescue challenges.

It was a week that kicked off with gold, silver and bronze medals for the Irish contingent, boys and girls alike, not to mention a slew of new Irish records.

Published in Water Safety
Tagged under

#RNLI - The volunteer crew of Kinsale RNLI launched at 1.20pm on Sunday last (4 October) to assist a swimmer who got into difficulties in the water around Sandycove Island.

Valentia Coast Guard requested the crew to launch their inshore lifeboat after walkers reported a person in difficulty in rough seas. He was quickly brought to safety, assisted by another swimmer and members of the public.

The swimmer said he had been alone but two pairs of shoes were found on the slipway, leading to fears that a second person may be in the water.

Gardaí, the Old Head Coast Guard shore unit and Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 joined the search but no further casualties were found.

Speaking following the callout, Kinsale RNLI lifeboat operations manager John O'Gorman said: "Thankfully this swimmer was helped ashore and made a full recovery but we would urge everyone to pay particular attention to the RNLI's Respect the Water campaign.

"Irish waters are dangerously unpredictable, especially at this time of year. There are over 200 coastal drownings every year. The RNLI aims to halve that number by 2024 and the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign will play a key role in achieving this.

"We still want you to enjoy the water, but we also want you to respect the water, acknowledge its dangers and never underestimate its power."

The RNLI urges anyone going on or in the water to let someone know where they are and when they will be back, and to carry a form of communication if at all possible.

If you do see someone in trouble, please do not enter the water to assist unless you are a trained lifesaver. Always dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Lifeguards - As RNLI lifeguards prepare to bring the 2015 season to a close this weekend in Northern Ireland, the charity that saves lives at sea has appealed to anyone planning a trip to the beach during the autumn and winter months to keep safe.

The season will draw to an end this Sunday 27 September, and RNLI lifeguard manager Mike Grocott is keen to remind anyone going to the beach post season to be aware that the lifeguards won’t be on patrol but that the same beach safety advice applies.

"While we can expect our beaches to be generally quieter in the coming months, there will be people using the water for activities such as surfing and kitesurfing.

"In the absence of RNLI lifeguards during this period, we would encourage anyone going to the beach to check weather and tide times, let someone know when you are due back, and carry a means of communication.

"If you see someone in trouble, please call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. People can also get advice at their local RNLI lifeboat station."

During the 2015 season there was RNLI lifeguard cover on 10 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down: Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

Five of the busier beaches were patrolled during the Easter period and at weekends from then till the middle of June before the full time season commenced on all 10 beaches running to 6 September. Lifeguards have maintained a presence at the busier beaches at weekends during September and will finish on Sunday evening.

Reflecting on the season, Grocott said the lifeguards had dealt with a variety of incidents. "Despite the weather being unkind for most of the summer, we did see a lot of visitors to our beaches and RNLI lifeguards dealt with a range of things including rescues and major first aids involving body boarders, paddle boarders and kite surfers.

"They also responded to people who got into difficulty on the beach itself including a teenager who collapsed and a man who was struggling to breathe in his car.

"There were a number of unusual incidents to deal with this summer too, including responding to a sand dune fire, red flagging beaches in a severe thunder and lightning storm and dealing with the discovery of mortar bombs. Our lifeguards are highly skilled and trained and thanks to that they knew how to handle such incidents professionally when they occurred."

The lifeguards also provided safety cover and engaged with the public at key events during the summer including the Portrush Raft Race, the Tall Ships in Belfast, the Portrush Airshow, and the Glens of Antrim triathlon.

"We worked closely with our lifeboat crews at Portrush, Newcastle, Kilkeel and Red Bay, too, to respond to incidents and provide safety cover when required."

RNLI lifeguards also delivered education programmes to primary school children across Northern Ireland. Programmes such as Hit the Surf enabled the lifeguards to impart important beach safety advice through theoretic and practical lessons in lifesaving and surf-based skills, local hazards and the beach environment.

Published in Water Safety

#WaterSafety - Inter-agency efforts to promote safer enjoyment of the water were the order of the day at Operation Safe Water, which took place in Howth Harbour yesterday (Thursday 9 July).

Members of An Garda Siochana, the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI took part in the first-of-its-kind operation between the three agencies, with the single aim of improving safety awareness among boat users.



The RNLI Coastal Safety Team were on hand to perform safety checks on lifejackets. "A lifejacket is useless if you don’t wear it, but it’s also important to maintain it properly," said Howth RNLI coastal safety officer John McKenna.

"Three simple steps could help to save your life: check that the gas canister is in good condition and screwed in properly, the firing head is within its expiry date and that a crotch strap is attached securely."



The Irish Coast Guard's Howth unit community safety officer Declan Howard led a team reviewing the essential safety equipment boats entering the harbour should be carrying.

“A roadside breakdown is an entirely different situation to one on the water," he said. 'Having no means of communicating your need for help can have grave implications for you as the boat drifts towards rocks or out to sea.

"The waters in Ireland can offer great enjoyment but if you ignore carrying some of the basic safety equipment you put your crew and yourself at risk of injury or worse”.

Howard added: “With no phone masts, mobile phone reception is hit-and-miss on the water. You need another plan to get out of trouble.”

The operation also reminded people of the dangers of cold water. Falling overboard is easy and can happen in seconds; getting back into a boat or even a kayak is not so easy or quick.

Currently Irish waters are 13 degrees; with no protective clothing, after 10-15 minutes hypothermia will commence and you’ll start to lose the ability to move arms and legs to stay afloat. Within an hour you could be unconscious. Survival is anywhere between one and six hours. If you have no way of letting the coastguard know you need help, the alarm might be raised too late.

Colin Murray, officer in charge of the Howth coastguard unit, said: “The job of the lifeboats and the coastguard is to get to you within that hour, your job is to let us know you need help.

"That means having your kit and emergency plan ready before you go on the water – ie marine VHF radios, flares, protective clothing, etc. This is on top of our summer message No Life Jacket? No Excuse. We want people enjoying the waters and coastline but going out prepared and not getting too complacent about the good weather.”


The inter-agency approach brings all stakeholders together with the aim of reducing the number of incidents on the water and coastline in the area and hopefully helping save lives. Water safety booklets will also shortly be distributed in multiple languages.

Published in Water Safety

#WaterSafety - RNLI lifeguards commenced full-time summer patrol on 10 beaches in Northern Ireland at the weekend.

Following weeks of intensive training in preparation for the new season, the lifeguards will be keeping visitors safe on seven beaches along the Causeway Coast and three in Co Down.



The beaches include Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield. 



Five of the busier beaches had lifeguard cover during the Easter period which was followed by a weekend patrol on six beaches throughout April, May and June. 



During weekend patrol on Sunday 14 June, RNLI lifeguards on Portstewart Strand dealt with their first major first aid incident of the summer.



At around 4.30pm, lifeguard Mairead McKeague was on duty at the water’s edge and patrolling the area between the red and yellow flags when she spotted a teenage boy at the east of the beach who had slipped on rocks and hit his head.



McKeague alerted senior lifeguard Damian McCauley and lifeguard Clara Doran, who responded immediately while she maintained patrol of the beach.



Lifeguard James Shannon, meanwhile, acted as the communications liaison between the RNLI and their colleagues in the coastguard and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service who also responded.



On scene within five minutes, McCauley and Doran proceeded to carry out first aid and treat the casualty for a head wound. They were joined five minutes later by a NIAS Rapid Response Paramedic and the Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Team, who proceeded to transport the casualty to their vehicle.



Speaking following the incident, RNLI lifeguard supervisor Tim Doran said: "Our lifeguards worked well together, spotting the incident quickly, communicating with each other and reacting swiftly to administer first aid to the casualty.

"They used their lifeguard training and skills to good effect with this incident serving as an example of the vigilant work our lifeguards do in responding to events that happen on the beach as well as those that occur in the water." 



From Saturday 20 June, the RNLI took up full-time daily duty on all 10 beaches continuing to Sunday 6 September, when weekend duty will then resume on selected beaches throughout September.



Lifeguards will be on the beach daily between 11am and 7pm on the Causeway Coast and between 10am and 6pm in Co Down. 



Ahead of the new season, the RNLI has reminded visitors to the beach to ask the lifeguards for water safety advice, and to call on a lifeguard if they see anyone in difficulty.



RNLI lifeguard manager Mike Grocott also encouraged visitors to bear in mind some key safety messages.

"The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags.

"Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 909 or 112 and ask for the coastguard."



Throughout the summer, the lifeguards will deal with a range of incidents.

"While the same safety advice applies to all our beaches, we do tend to see patterns of activity that are more specific to some beaches than others," said Grocott.

"Whiterocks, for example, is most affected by last winter’s storm damage and there is a lot of coastal erosion there. It is also a beach known for its waves and swells so it is popular with surfers and body boarders.

"Benone, Portstewart and Portrush East, meanwhile, are large beaches which we know will attract a lot of people throughout the summer. We can also expect to be exceptionally busy on vank holiday weekends, during the fortnight holiday period in July and if and when the weather peaks.



"Having a good knowledge of the profile of our beaches and the types of activities that are popular on each of them helps to guide how we carry out our lifeguard training before the season begins so our lifeguards can be prepared for all the incidents they will encounter."

Published in Water Safety

#WaterSafety - The National Maritime College of Ireland, as a member of the International Association of Safety and Survival Training (IASST), be hosting the 67th International IASST Meeting & Conference on 19-20 October 2015 at the NMCI campus in Ringaskiddy.

Registration for the conference, which is also open to non-IASST members, is now live over on the IASST website. Full details on the conference agenda are available HERE.

Follow the NMCI on Twitter, LinkedIn and the official blog to keep up-to-date about the conference.

Published in Water Safety

#MarineNotice - In response to recommendations by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), Marine Notice No 26 of 2015 has been issued to promote and highlight the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft, as well as to underline the legal requirements in relation to the wearing and proper care of personal flotation devices, or PFDs.

It is the responsibility of owners and operators of recreational craft to ensure that a vessel is properly operated, maintained and equipped. The Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft assists with this responsibility by providing safety information on legislative requirements in a simple and user-friendly way, and by giving straightforward safety advice and guidance on best practice in relation to vessel standards, equipment and operation for different types of recreational craft and their areas of operation.

The code is available free of charge on request from the Maritime Safety Policy Division (email [email protected]) and is also available to view or download from www.safetyonthewater.ie or from the DTTAS website HERE.

Requirements for the use of PFDs, meanwhile, are detailed in Marine Notices No 45 of 2012 and No 39 of 2013 as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Water Safety

#drowning – The number of accidental drownings in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since records began.

There were a total of 338 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes across the UK in 2014, according to a report published today by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).

That number, from statistics published by NWSF, has fallen from 381 in 2013, and is the lowest figure since data collection began in 1983.

The NWSF's Water Incident Database (WAID) breaks down drownings and other water-related deaths by activity, age and location type.

The highest proportion of those people who have lost their lives in 2014 did not intend to be in the water - the main activity being undertaken before they died was walking or running alongside water (138 deaths, predominantly in rivers and coastal water), while 36 people drowned while swimming in unsupervised places, the next leading cause.

Last year's figures show that, like previous years, males (271) are more likely to drown than females (71), with a higher number of deaths for males than females in every single age bracket recorded.

Men aged between 25-29 are a particular concern, with 29 dying in 2014. Children aged up to 19 account for just over one in 10 of all deaths (38), with 21 of those in the 15-19 age bracket.

July saw the biggest spike in the number of deaths (43, up from 20 in June and 29 in August), while January was also a problem month, with 38 people killed.

George Rawlinson, chairman of the NWSF, said: "It's really positive that we're starting to see a decline in the numbers of accidental drownings but any loss of life is tragic and there's more that we can do to reduce these figures further. WAID provides vital insight that helps interested groups shape interventions to protect those people most at risk.

"The NWSF and their respective organisations work tirelessly to promote education and water safety and together are now developing a strategy that could be adopted nationally; this will provide an important framework for identifying how improvements in safety and education could be made to tackle this problem.

Published in Water Safety
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