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RNLI Warns People to Respect the Water with Hard-Hitting Campaign

9th July 2015
RNLI Warns People to Respect the Water with Hard-Hitting Campaign

#RespectTheWater – The RNLI is today launching its national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, warning people that the coastlines and waters can be dangerously unpredictable. The campaign which will be run on radio, outdoor and online will also see two hard-hitting ads screened in Irish cinemas over the summer months, which show the effect of cold water shock on the body and the unpredictability of the water.

Figures released by the charity today show an average of 59 people die in Irish waters each year – more than the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on Ireland's roads.

In 2014 alone, 55 people died by accidental drowning in Irish waterways. The number of near-misses is even higher – last year the RNLI's lifeboat crews around the Republic of Ireland rescued 1,133 people and saved 36 lives.

The RNLI is aiming to halve the number of coastal deaths by 2024 and the charity's national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, is warning people – particularly adult men – to be aware of the dangers of the coastline, as well as the water itself.

The two 60 second commercials will screen in Irish and UK cinemas over the next eight weeks. The first film entitled 'Breathe' is shown from the point of view of the casualty, played by an actor. The narrator invites the audience to hold its breath while watching the film, as the casualty struggles and succumbs to the effects of cold water shock in the time the audience is holding their breath. The film reveals that, on land, the average person can hold their breath for 45 seconds – but in cold water, they might not last 10.

The second film called 'unpredictable' is again shown from the perspective of a casualty, played by an actor and shows the unpredictability of the water and how quickly conditions can turn. Both films have received a 15 age rating.
(N.B. Please note videos contain scenes that some viewers may find distressing)

Joe Moore, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager for Ireland, says: 'We're warning people that if they're going near the water, whatever their activity, they could be at risk and they need to take care. A large number of incidents which happen each year involve people who never even intended to enter the water – slips and falls while walking or running are very common. Unexpected dangers like slippery rocks, sudden waves or unstable ground can catch anyone out.'

The charity is also warning people of the unpredictability of the water, including the dangers of cold water and rip currents. Summer air temperatures may be warm but the average sea temperature is just 12oc. Cold water shock, which causes uncontrollable gasping and numbs the limbs, can set in at any temperature below 15oc.

Rips are strong currents of water which can quickly drag people out of their depth. They account for around two-thirds of the environmental-related incidents lifeguards respond to each year. For those not at a lifeguarded beach, being caught in a rip can prove fatal if they don't take the right steps to free themselves and make it safely to shore.

Joe Moore added: 'The water might look inviting, but it can be dangerously unpredictable, with hazards which can be fatal if not respected. Cold water is a major risk for anyone who ends up in the water – intentionally or otherwise. The body's reaction to sudden immersion in cold water will trigger uncontrollable gasping, which can draw water into the lungs and lead to drowning. The coldness will also gradually shut down the use of limbs, making it very difficult even for strong swimmers to stay afloat.

'We want people to enjoy the water but to make sure they respect it. On average 59 lives are lost around the coast of the Republic of Ireland each year but many of these losses could be avoided if people acknowledge the dangers and follow some basic safety advice.'

The RNLI's Respect the Water campaign, warning people of the dangerously unpredictable nature of our seas and coastlines, will run across Ireland and the UK during the summer, through advertising channels including cinema, outdoor, radio and online.

The charity is also running a number of tailored safety programmes, targeted at those who participate in the activities which account for a large number of coastal incidents each year.
Those interested in finding out more about the dangers of the coast can visit the Respect the Water website and see for themselves at www.rnli.org/respectthewater

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Afloat.ie Team

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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