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RNLI Issues Water Safety Warning During Lockdowns In Ireland & UK

7th January 2021
File image of Rosslare Harbour RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat File image of Rosslare Harbour RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

The RNLI is urging anyone who is able under Irish or UK government guidelines to visit the coast during lockdown to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks that may put extra pressure on emergency services.

As both the UK and Ireland enter new nationwide lockdowns, RNLI lifeboats will continue to launch.

However, every time a lifeboat crew is called to an incident, it puts additional pressure on RNLI volunteers and other frontline emergency services. In addition to this, it also potentially exposes them to Covid-19.

Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: “During lockdown, RNLI lifeboats and stations remain operational and will launch around the clock where there is risk to life.

“We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines on what they are able to do and where they are able to go during lockdown.

“But for anyone visiting a coastal area, please understand the risks to be as safe as possible and not put unnecessary strain on frontline services.

“No one ever heads to the coast with the expectation of needing to be rescued, yet rescues are occurring every day.

“In a normal year around 150 people lose their lives at the coast and we know that more than half of those never intended to be in the water.

“So, whether you are walking, running or cycling at the coast, or doing some activity on or in the water, please be extra responsible and avoid taking unnecessary risks.”

The RNLI and HM Coastguard last month launched a winter coastal safety campaign to highlight the dangers of stormy seas, changing tides and cliffs at this time of year.

Morrison added: “Our beaches and coastal areas may see an increase in visitors in the days and weeks to come, so we’re urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe.

“In particular at this time of year, we ask people to stay well back from stormy, wintery seas and cliff edges, check tide times before you go, take a phone with you, and call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard if you or someone else is in trouble.”

The RNLI’s key water safety advice is:

  • Take care if walking near cliffs – be aware of ice and frost, know your route and keep dogs on a lead.
  • Check tide times daily.
  • Take a full-charged phone.
  • If going afloat, always wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device and take a means of calling for help.
  • Check your equipment is in good working order.
  • Be aware of the conditions and your capabilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so.
  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
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