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'Operation Safe Water' Brings Agencies Together To Promote Safety Awareness Among Water Users

10th July 2015
Operation Safe Water
RNLI and Irish Coast Guard representatives review the latest water safety user survey findings at Howth Harbour's Operation Safe Water
'Operation Safe Water' Brings Agencies Together To Promote Safety Awareness Among Water Users

#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
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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