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Survivor Helps RNLI Promote Water Safety At Ireland Angling Show

25th February 2016
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Howth RNLI community safety officer John McKenna with shore angler and accident survivor Colm Plunkett Howth RNLI community safety officer John McKenna with shore angler and accident survivor Colm Plunkett Photo: RNLI/Tara Murphy

#WaterSafety - Shore angler Colm Plunkett, who survived a near drowning incident last August, assisted the RNLI community safety team at the Ireland Angling 2016 show last weekend (20-21 February).

Plunkett shared his experience with hundreds of fellow anglers and watersports enthusiasts from all over Ireland – and promoted the wearing of lifejackets to help prevent the loss of life along coasts, rivers and lake shores.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Plunkett was swept from rocks when he was angling near Dursey Island in Cork last August. He spent 55 minutes fighting for his life before he was rescued. He was wearing a lifejacket at the time.

“My main message is that I wasn’t lucky - I was prepared but not nearly as much as I needed to be," he said. "A splash hood on my lifejacket would have saved me from an experience somewhat akin to waterboarding. A personal locator beacon (PLB) would have brought the coastguard directly to me should I have continued out to sea. It would also have initiated a distress call if I had been fishing on my own, which I often do.

"The lifejacket saved my life; the prearranged plan with my daughter saved my life; the cell phone saved my life; the emergency services saved my life. And if through telling others of my harrowing experience, on a ‘calm’ sea, I can get other fishermen to wear a life jacket then it was an experience worth having but definitely not worth repeating."

Plunkett also suggested a prearranged plan for anyone heading out on or near the water:

  • Wear a well maintained lifejacket with crotch straps at all times.
  • No one else should enter the water in an emergency.
  • Call 112 or 999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.

John McKenna, Howth RNLI community safety officer, added: "It was fantastic to have Colm here to share his experience with other anglers. He is a very engaging speaker and he was able to offer targeted, practical suggestions to the visitors at the RNLI stand.

"We hope that it encourages people to think twice and be prepared before they go out fishing on or near the water."

The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews rescued 240 shore anglers and saved 28 lives between 2010 and 2014.

The charity is aiming to reduce coastal drowning significantly by 2024 by expanding its preventative work and launching the Respect the Water campaign, which engages with water users on how to stay safe and maintain their equipment.

If any angling, sailing or boating clubs would like a member of the RNLI sea safety team to give a sea safety presentation and carry out a free lifejacket clinic, contact John McKenna at [email protected]

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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