#WaterSafety - The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint safety message for the festive season to remind people to stay safe when they are in or near the water, and to remember some basic safety advice to use if they see someone in trouble or get into difficulty themselves.
Speaking ahead of the holiday period, Irish Coast Guard operations manager Gerard O’Flynn said: “Many people will be engaging in outdoor activities along the coastline. The simple safety message is: Stay Back, Stay High, Stay Dry.
“Christmas Day swims are a popular pursuit and we would urge the public to only participate in organised swims where medical support and lifeguards are available.
The three Rescue Co-ordination Centres based in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, along with the coastguard helicopter service and volunteer units, will remain operational over the holiday period.
“And we would remind the public that if you see anybody in danger at sea, on the coast or on cliffs to call 112 and ask for the coastguard,” O’Flynn added.
The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews will also remain on call over the Christmas period “but what would really make them happy is if everyone has a safe Christmas,” said the RNLI’s head of engagement Gareth Morrison.
“At this time of year a lot of people take part in charity swims and the water temperature is a lot lower than in the summer months. The RNLI lifeboat crews launch to a lot of people who never expected to end up in the water when they left the house. Callouts can be to people getting cut off from the tide, to slips or falls while walking near the coastline.
“We run our drowning prevention campaign ‘Respect the Water’ all year round and ask people to follow some simple advice and know what to do in an emergency. Further information is also available at www.respecthewater.com.”
If you fall into cold water unexpectedly, remember to fight your instincts, not the water.
People follow the same instinct when in cold water - they gasp, thrash about and swim hard. But this increases chances of water entering your lungs and increases strain on your heart.
If this happens, fight your instinct and float. The initial shock will pass quite quickly within 60–90 seconds and when you have regained control of your breathing, you can then try swimming to safety or calling for help. You’ll have a far better chance of staying alive.
If taking part in a swim, always take your time to slowly walk into the sea to allow your body time to acclimatise. Stay in the shallow water when you first go in to reduce the severity of cold water shock.
If you see someone in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
If out for a walk by the water or along the coast, remember:
- Be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside. Slips and falls happen in all locations; it is not just high cliff edges that are a risk.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Take care when walking in dark and slippery conditions.
- Always take a means of calling for help.
- Always check the weather and tides.