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RNLI & Irish Coast Guard in Joint Call for People to ‘Respect the Water’ During Busiest Month for Rescues

3rd August 2017
Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat on Dublin Bay, it's one of the busiest RNLI boats in the country Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat on Dublin Bay, it's one of the busiest RNLI boats in the country

The RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard are issuing a joint call this Bank Holiday weekend urging people to be vigilant and to take care on the water and along the coastline. It comes as both organisations note that August was the busiest month for coastal recreational incidents last year. Irish lifeboat crews last August alone responded 217 times to emergencies at sea.

With the summer holidays in full swing, it has been a busy time for the search and rescue agencies and this Bank Holiday weekend, the two organisations are warning people to be vigilant and take heed of some simple safety advice.

While summer air temperatures may be warm, Irish waters rarely exceed 15C, making them cold enough year-round to trigger cold water shock, which causes the instinctive reaction to gasp and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning.

As part of its drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, the RNLI is calling on the public to help save more lives during this busy period by remembering and sharing key survival skills.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Community Safety Partner explains: ‘We are now half way through the summer holidays and are approaching what is traditionally a busy Bank Holiday weekend around the coast and on our inland waters. While that hopefully signals an enjoyable time for many – it sadly also means that we can learn of tragedy or hear of people getting into serious danger.

‘We want to start a national conversation that encourages people to fight their instincts around water, so we are asking people to remember and share two skills. The first is, if you see someone else in trouble; don’t go into the water yourself as you may also end up in serious danger. Instead, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. If you want to help, find something that floats and throw it to them, or shout instructions on how to float until the rescue services arrive.

‘The second is, if you fall into cold water, fight your instincts to swim hard or thrash about as this could lead to drowning. Instead, relax and float on your back, keeping your airway clear, for around 60-90 seconds. This will allow the effects of cold water shock to pass so you can regain control of your breathing and then swim to safety or call for help. Just remembering these two simple points could help save your life, or someone else’s, this Bank Holiday weekend.’

The Irish Coast Guard has two simple messages, to ‘Stay Back, Stay High, Stay Dry’ near exposed parts of the coastline and to ‘Stay Afloat – Stay in Contact’ when at sea.

Gerard O’Flynn, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager said: ‘While it is important that everyone going afloat wears a lifejacket, it is equally important that every user ensures their lifejackets are regularly serviced.

‘Lifejackets are not fool proof and users should always ensure that they have familiarised themselves on their proper operation and that they are in date for servicing. Anyone going afloat should also ensure they have a means of raising the alarm should they need to and that they ensure someone ashore is aware of their trip and estimated time of return.’

‘Away from the sea, we want everyone to exercise caution when walking on exposed cliffs. Pets should be always kept on a leash and walkers should avoid areas which they are not familiar with. Our message is to stay back, stay high, stay dry.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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.

SSE Renewables are the sponsors of the 2020 Round Ireland Race.

Wicklow Sailing Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London and The Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dublin.

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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