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Irish Angler Warns Others To Put Safety First As He Recalls Day Lifejacket Saved His Life

5th November 2015

#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
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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