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Displaying items by tag: water safety

#LifeRing - A life ring belonging to the US Coast Guard was found more than 6,000km from home on the Clare coast recently.

As reports, the ring was spotted from the air by the crew of the Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 near Byrnes Cove in Kilkee during another search in the area some weeks ago.

Poor weather prevented coastguard teams from retrieving the water safety apparatus and its attached strobe light for several days.

But upon taking it in, they learned that the ring had drifted all the way across the Atlantic after it was lost overboard from a US Coast Guard vessel in Port Canaveral in Florida more than two years ago. has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#WaterSafety - Irish Water Safety's "long and proud history" has been paid tribute in a new book by author Tiarnan O'Sullivan

The History of Irish Water Safety is the culmination of two years of research by the Cork-based writer, who has been involved with IWS since 2002 both as a pool and beach lifeguard and as an instructor and committee secretary.

The result, published just in time for Christmas, comprises 288 pages of reflections and remembrances from people involved in the organisation right back to its very beginnings in 1945.

Available to order from Irish Water Safety, The Long Walk, Galway or online via [email protected], the book costs €25 for the hardback edition and €15 for the paperback.

Published in Water Safety

#StormDesmond - It was a 'red' alert for western coastal counties this weekend as Storm Desmond blew in from the Atlantic with extreme gusts and downpours.

But amid the damage and disruption across the country, Galway-based photographer Cathal Devlin took to social media to share his dismay at the recklessness of two would-be divers who decided the stormy conditions presented the perfect time to take a dip.

Devlin's video of the "stunt" at Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill – which clearly shows the young men ignoring basic water safety advice by diving into rough seas, with blasts of spray occasionally obscuring the pier – has gone viral in the 24 hours since he first uploaded it to Facebook. But he says he did not post it for entertainment purposes.

"I do not know if they are strong swimmers or not, that is not the case," Devlin writes. "If any one of them got into difficulties there was no one there to do anything for them.

"The voluntary and rescue services are kept busy enough without having to worry about this type of stupid behaviour."

Published in Water Safety

Forty-two rescuers from twenty-four dramatic near-death incidents will receive recognition at Irish Water Safety's National Annual Awards Ceremony at The Print Works Conference Centre, Dublin Castle tomorrow. Twenty-eight lives were saved from drowning through the brave actions of these rescuers.

Mr Alan Kelly, Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government will present the "SEIKO Just in Time Rescue Award" to rescuers in appreciation for saving so many lives.

"Tragically an average of 135 drownings occur in Ireland every year," commented Minister Kelly, "and although that's 135 too many, the figure would be even higher but for the dramatic efforts of these individuals who saved others from drowning and the ongoing work of volunteers teaching swimming and rescue skills."

In 2014, the 114 drownings in Ireland were nine fewer than in 2013, and 21 fewer than the annual average, reason enough to highlight today the work of Irish Water Safety Volunteers and their partners in the public and private sector in educating more people on how best to enjoy our wonderful aquatic facilities more safely. Complacency around aquatic environments is simply not an option", he remarked, adding "Six children aged fourteen and under drowned in 2014, reflecting the importance of constant uninterrupted child supervision."

"I appeal to all adults to make themselves more aware of the dangers in, on and around water", continued Minister Kelly. "It only takes seconds for tragedy to strike and this can so easily be avoided if people take responsibility for their own safety by learning about the hazards. I ask that people encourage friends and family to read Irish Water Safety's guidelines at so that they have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to avoid becoming a drowning statistic. It is very important that people take training before pursuing aquatic activities."

"Drownings often happen quickly and silently with an average of 80% of drownings occurring close to the victim's home and 62% occurring inland. The range of aquatic activities is extremely varied yet what is tragically constant each year is the gender most at risk - males - accounting for 79% of drownings (90) in 2014. 53% of drownings were aged 30-59 clearly demonstrating that regardless of age, one is never too old to learn how to stay safe around water."

Long-Service Awards will also be presented, recognising 1,535 years of personal service of 84 Irish Water Safety volunteers from around the country for teaching swimming, rescue and water survival skills.

Interviews and photographs are available with Award recipients on the day at Dublin Castle from 2pm onwards.

SEIKO Just In Time Award Recipients:
Presented to those who came to the assistance of person(s) in difficulty in water and in danger of drowning. 

1. Garda John Power
2. Garda John foote
On the 19th of February 2014, a call was received at Clonmel Garda station regarding a person that had fallen into the River Suir. Garda Power and Garda Foote attended the scene. Without hesitation Garda Power entered the water. With the aid of a ringbuoy both Gardai brought the person to safety where an ambulance crew were waiting. The person made a fully recovery.

3. Garda Kevin Gaynor
4. Garda Cormac McGill
On the 7th March 2014, at approximately 5am, Garda Gaynor and McGill received a call that a man had fallen into the sea at Clontarf Road. When they arrived at the scene, the person was conscious and calling out for help. It became evident that this person's life was in danger so, without hesitation, and with the aid of a ringbuoy, both Gardai entered the water. They secured the man onto the ringbuoy and brought him safely to shore. The man made a full recovery.

5. Mr Nick Facer
6. Mr Kevin Carter
On Sunday 26th October 2014, at Lackanarra, Co. Sligo, Torrance California Fire-fighters Nick Facer and Kevin Carter noticed two people in the water having difficulties in the weather conditions. It became apparent that, without assistance, the two individuals would not make it back to shore. Without hesitation, both men entered the water after instructing others to call for help. Kevin Carter took the first surfer to shore as he seemed to be exhausted and Nick Facer continued to search for the other surfer in extremely rough sea conditions. Upon reaching the man he gave one end of his leash to him and began the long swim towards the shore with the surfer in tow. They were assisted by many other surfers upon reaching the shore. Both surfers were treated at the scene and taken to hospital where they made a full recovery.

7. Mr Diarmuid McInerney
On the 16th May 2015, Diarmuid was working on a golf course in Bundoran when he heard a cry for help. Upon sighting two people having difficulty in the water he advised the Coastguard and went to the aid of the swimmers. Diarmuid was passed a ringbuoy by a member of the public and without hesitation he entered the water. He instructed the two swimmers to thread water. Conditions were rough but Diarmuid managed to pull the nearest person to him to safety onto nearby rocks. The Bundoran lifeboat arrived but was unable to approach the swimmers due to the heavy swell surging onto the rocks. After four attempts of throwing the ringbuoy, the casualty finally grabbed hold of the buoyancy aid and was brought to safety. The rescuer used his IWS lifesaving skills to carry out an effective and safe rescue. Both swimmers made a full recovery.

8. Garda Shaun Durkan
9. Garda Gerard Carroll
On the evening of the 24th June 2015, D/Garda Durkan received a call regarding a woman in difficulty in the river at the Claddagh basin. Garda Durken immediately went to the scene and observed that the female was being carried out to sea by the strong current. Without hesitation he entered the water with a ringbuoy and swam towards the casualty. She took hold of the ringbuoy. D/Garda Gerry Carroll arrived at the scene and also entered the water to assist D/Garda Durkan in bringing the female to safety. The person made a full recovery.

10.Mr Stephen Andrews
11.Mr Brendan Connolly
12.Mr Thomas O'Brien
Mr Martin Mullen - Rescue Appreciation Award
On the 31st July 2011, Martin Mullen entered the water in an attempt to rescue a man in distress in the river Liffey. He then got into difficulty. Stephen Andrews entered the water and with the help of Brendan Connolly & Thomas O Brien brought Martin Mullen to safety.

13.Garda Thomas Hennessey
14.Garda Donal Lawlor
On the night of the 14th January 2015, Gardai Tom Hennessy and Donal Lawlor bravely entered the water alongside Carlow Rowing Club to assist a man in distress in the water. They both swam in the icy waters and brought the man to safety. He made a full recovery.

15.Garda Emlyn Mulligan
On the 2nd August 2013, Garda Mulligan received a report regarding a female in difficulty in the water at the river Camlin in Longford town. Upon arrival to the scene, Garda Mulligan assessed the situation and without hesitation entered the water and swam out to the woman. He brought her to safety and she made a full recovery.

16.Mr Danny Gillespie
17.Mr Eamonn Gillespie
18.Mr Connie Gillespie
19.Mr Tadhg Diver
On the 13th of September 2014 at approximately 8pm at Bunbeg pier, Donegal, Danny, Eamonn, Connie Gillespie along with Tadhg Diver heard a loud noise and immediately went to investigate. Eamonn immediately went for help and called emergency services. Without hesitation Mr Gillespie steered his boat to where the van was located and with the assistance of Connie and Tadhg managed to attach a rope to the rear of the van and towed it to the harbour slipway. Eamonn, who was waiting at the pier, secured the rope and assisted by the fact that they were in shallow water, Danny managed to get the door open to get the person to safety. The person was subsequently taken to hospital and made a full recovery.

20.Detective Garda Jo Ann Holahan
21.Garda Frank Howlin
On the 23rd April 2015 at approximately 6.45pm D/Garda Jo Ann Holahan & her colleague Garda Frank Howlin received a call regarding two people in distress in the sea at Salthill. Upon arrival to the scene they assessed the situation and without hesitation D/Garda Holohan grabbed a ringbuoy and swam out to sea towards the unconscious woman and her distressed cousin. Garda Howlin having established the situation - requested further Garda assistance and the services of the RNLI and Coastguard. Using a ringbuoy, both Gardai brought the women to safety to nearby rocks at the bottom of the cliff. They successfully administered CPR on the unconscious woman. Both women were treated for Hypothermia and made a fully recovery.

22.Garda Joe O'Connor
Garda Barry Moran - Rescue Appreciation Award
On the 19th of July, at Aston Quay, Gardai Joseph O Connor and Barry Moran (RES Appreciation) were on a uniform beat patrol when they came upon a female in distress in the water, Garda Moran lowered a life buoy to the lady but she was unable to reach it and was slowly going under water. Without hesitation Garda O Connor entered the water and upon reaching the woman, managed to keep her afloat. Meanwhile a person in a RIB motor boat manoeuvred her boat over the Garda O Connor, and they both managed to lift the distressed woman onto the boat. Both Garda O Connor and the casualty were taken to safety. The woman made a fully recovery. . The quick response and actions for both Gardai in this instance undoubtedly prevented the loss of a life.

23.Garda Aidan Monahan
24.Garda Niall Kenny
Kilkenny & Dublin
First rescue: On the 23rd of July 2010, at the River Nore, Kilkenny - Garda Monahan (Off Duty) came to the rescue of a woman in distress in the water and with the aid of two life buoys that were thrown to him during the rescue he managed to bring the casualty and himself to safety.
Second Rescue - On the 4th of May of 2012 at approximately 4am, Garda Monahan was on patrol and received a call regarding a man in distress at the River Liffey. Upon reaching the scene, Garda Monaghan requested the assistance of the Dublin Fire Brigade; he then retrieved a ringbuoy and without hesitation entered the water. He brought the casualty to the side of the river, where Garda Niall Kenny helped to bring the casualty to safety.

25.Garda Carroll Walsh
26.Garda Carrie O'Connor
On the 18th August 2012, at approximately 2.30am, Garda Walsh responded to a call for assistance on Aaron Quay. Upon arrival he saw a woman in distress in the water. Without hesitation Garda Walsh entered the water and with the assistance of Garda Carrie O Connor pulled her to safety, where he began to perform CPR by administering back slaps. The casualty made a full recovery.

27.Garda Brendan Flannery
28.Garda John Teehan
29.Garda Cathal Mulvihill
30.Mr David Turner
On the 29th of March, Gardai Teehan, Flannery, Mulvihill and Mr Turner rushed to the scene of a young man in distress, attempting to jump into the Shannon. The Gardai spoke to the person at great length in an effort to talk him down off the bridge. Garda Teehan climbed over the bridge and was suspended by his colleagues from the top of the bridge in an attempt to reach the person. He managed to grab hold of the person and pull him over the ledge to safety.

31.Mr Fergal Swaine
On the 7th May 2014, Fergal was cycling to work when he came upon a person in distress in the water at the Canal at Cross Guns Bridge, Phibsboro. Without hesitation he grabbed a ringbuoy and entered the water. Upon reaching the man, he grabbed hold of his jacket and managed to swim to the bank where a number of people helped to pull him to safety. Fergal administered CPR and the casualty was taken to hospital.

32.Mr Seamus McCarthy
33.Ms Fionnuala Quigley
Garda Brian O'Donnell - Community & Social Responsibility Award
Inish Mor, Aran islands, Galway
On the 8th of April, Apu Gupta, an Indian tourist was swept off a rocky ledge by a wave on Inis Mór, Galway. The accident was witnessed by tourist and advanced paramedic Seamus McCarthy and his girlfriend Fionnula Quigley. Seamus phoned 999 but there was no reception, so Fionnuala ran to the nearest house to call for help. Meanwhile, Seamus put together a makeshift rescue rope using a jacket and backpack and lowered it to the casualty. She tightened the backpack around her waist and Seamus and another person began to pull her slowly up the cliff face. They successfully pulled her to safety and Seamus managed to stabilise her until the rescue helicopter arrived then took her to the hospital. The person made a full recovery.

Garda Brian O'Donnell helped to raise public awareness about the dangers of being too close to the edges of the Atlantic ocean coastline by sending the video of the incident to Irish Water Safety which became a feature on the RTE news and quickly went viral online with hits to date in excess of 1.2 million. Brian also ensured that the rescued girl and her family were accommodated by the relevant authorities while the 21 year old visitor made a full recovery in hospital. Irish Water Safety's public awareness campaigns rely on the input of people like Brian to bring stories to the public and for this we are deeply grateful.

34.Ms Alexis-Elizabeth Vaganova
On the 18th June 2014, Alexis was swimming with her friends at Salmon Leap. They had jumped into the water, when she noticed that one of her friends had not surfaced. Without hesitation Alexis swam underwater towards her friend, grabbed her and brought her up to the surface. She reassured her friend and instructed her to kick her legs. She managed to take her safely to shore.

35.Mr Niall Clarke
On the 12th February of this year, Niall Clarke came upon a car parked haphazardly at a barrier on the river bank at the River Barrow at Leighlinbridge Village. He then noticed a person face down in the water. Without hesitation he entered the water and swam towards the casualty. He brought the person to safety and successfully performed CPR on them. He placed the casualty into the recovery position and went to a nearby shop and told them to call emergency services.

36.Mr Martin Gavaghan
Garda John O'Brien - Rescue Appreciation
Garda Kevin Fitzpatrick - Rescue Appreciation
On the 23rd of December 2014, at a Swimming pool in Arklow, Deirbhile aged 8, alerted her father Martin Gavaghan that a boy wasn't moving and was lying on the pool floor. Without hesitation Martin swam down to the boy and lifted his lifeless body to the pool side. Two Leisure assistants began CPR on the child and called emergency services. Garda John O Brien & Garda Kevin Fitzpatrick (Rescue Appreciations) arrived at the scene and took over the CPR. They continued to work on him for over ten minutes and eventually got a pulse. The Ambulance crew took over and the boy is currently recovering very well.

37.Mr David McCarthy
38.Mr Martin Dennehy
On the 12th of September 2015, Fisheries officers Martin Dennehy & David McCarthy were on patrol at Lough Bofinne when they heard cries for help. Being experienced officers, they did a risk assessment and confidently instructed the casualty and managed to get him to turn on his back and start kicking to propel him back to shore. Both officers waded out to the lake and threw a rope towards the casualty, who managed to grab hold of it. They proceeded to pull the casualty towards the shore. They took him to hospital where he made a full recovery.

39.Mr John Clancy
On the evening of the 27th October 2015, John was walking along the Claddagh quay when he noticed a person in the water. He called out but there was no response. John called out to two people nearby to call emergency services and without hesitation entered the water and swam towards the casualty. At this stage the casualty had began to submerge and John had lostsight of this person. He successfully retrieved the casualty and pulled the person to safety.

40.Ms Erika McCarthy
On Tuesday the 25th August 2015, Erika was training at Inchydoney beach, and swimming back to shore with her team members when she heard a faint cry for help in the distance. She turned back and came upon a male and female in difficulty. Erika managed to calm the male and encourage him to swim towards the shore, while, at the same time she carried the woman. As Erika was swimming closer to shore, she came upon a fellow colleague and directed him to take the female back on his board while she continued to encourage the male swimmer. Both swimmers were brought safely to shore.

41.Mr Eric Nolan
42.Mr John Dimond
On the 5th of August 2013, both Erik Nolan and John Dimond noticed a person enter the river from O Hanrahan Bridge at New Ross and without hesitation they readied and launched a RIB. They approached the person in water and persuaded him to be helped aboard the RIB. They calmed the person and returned to the boat house and waited with him until emergency services arrived.

Published in Water Safety
Tagged under

#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

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney has said he is "very concerned" about revelations in the Guardian regarding widespread exploitation of migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry.

The minister released a short statement last night (Monday 2 November) just hours after the newspaper published its exposé of trafficked labour on trawlers throughout Ireland's fishing fleet.

The year-long undercover investigation by a team of Guardian journalists found evidence of undocumented labour on prawn and whitefish boats working from Ireland's biggest fishery harbours.

First-hand accounts from a number of these migrant fishermen – mainly from Ghana, the Philippines, Egypt and India – describe a "catalogue of abuses", including overwork, sleep deprivation, lack of safety training, withheld wages far below the Irish minimum, and being confined to their vessels when in port.

Sleep deprivation in particular has been linked to the Tit Bonhomme tragedy in January 2012, which took the lives of five of its six crew - two Irish, including the skipper, and four Egyptian, one of them the lone survivor.

Earlier this year the families of two of the deceased Egyptian fishermen reaches a settlement in the High Court over the incident – which the Guardian says was exacerbated by the absence of mandatory emergency drills in the months before, and the lack of enough lifesaving gear on board for the whole crew.

Lax safety protocols have also been claimed in the death of Filipino fisherman Joel Alama, who was overcome by fumes while attempting to rescue Irish colleague James Joyce, who also died, from their trawler's hold in Killybegs this past August.

What's more, it's believed that a number of migrant workers have been trafficked into working on boats in Ireland.

One Filipino fisherman claims he was contracted via an agency to work on a boat sailing from Belfast to Morocco, but on arrival was driven across Ireland to Crosshaven to fish in Irish waters without the necessary permits.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland this morning, one of the reporters on the story, food and farming journalist Ella McSweeney, spoke of exploitation of migrant labour being an "open secret" in the Irish fishing fleet.

She said this makes it doubly difficult for "good Irish trawler owners" to compete with boats that work illegally, not only by exploiting undocumented crew but also misreporting their logs and fishing beyond their grounds, among other shortcuts.

McSweeney added that the courts in Ireland have been "too lenient" in cases where exploitation has already come to light, and that the laws to prevent the situation are already there but are "not being enforced".

Morning Ireland also spoke to Grainne O'Toole of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, who called on the Government to introduce visa regularisation for trafficked workers "and ensure they they are able to reclaim the wages owed to them".

Dismissing criticisms that the State has been "turning a blind eye" to widespread abuses in the fishing fleet, Minister Coveney – who only last July welcomed a report on improving safety and welfare standards in the fishing industry – said the Department of Justice has confirmed a project, led by the Garda, "specifically to address concerns in relation to human trafficking in the maritime sector".

This project "aims to provide a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach the issue, involving a broad range of competent State agencies ... and civil society organisations."

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#BeachRescue - Irish Water Safety has posted a compilation video from last month's National Beach Rescue Championships, which took place at Spanish Point in Co Clare.

As previously reported on, the beach at Spanish Point was among the safest in Ireland on Saturday 12 September as 152 lifeguards from nine counties vied for the President's Trophy - lifted this year by the lifesaving women of Clare Ladies.

The county also led in the men's surf rescue division, as all those taking part battled challenging open water conditions in a series simulated emergency rescue scenarios designed to test their swimming and rescue board skills.

More recently, Team Ireland's girls were crowed junior beach rescue champions at the European Junior & Masters Lifesaving Championships in Alicante at the end of September after a gruelling week of beach rescue challenges.

It was a week that kicked off with gold, silver and bronze medals for the Irish contingent, boys and girls alike, not to mention a slew of new Irish records.

Published in Water Safety
Tagged under

#RNLI - The volunteer crew of Kinsale RNLI launched at 1.20pm on Sunday last (4 October) to assist a swimmer who got into difficulties in the water around Sandycove Island.

Valentia Coast Guard requested the crew to launch their inshore lifeboat after walkers reported a person in difficulty in rough seas. He was quickly brought to safety, assisted by another swimmer and members of the public.

The swimmer said he had been alone but two pairs of shoes were found on the slipway, leading to fears that a second person may be in the water.

Gardaí, the Old Head Coast Guard shore unit and Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 joined the search but no further casualties were found.

Speaking following the callout, Kinsale RNLI lifeboat operations manager John O'Gorman said: "Thankfully this swimmer was helped ashore and made a full recovery but we would urge everyone to pay particular attention to the RNLI's Respect the Water campaign.

"Irish waters are dangerously unpredictable, especially at this time of year. There are over 200 coastal drownings every year. The RNLI aims to halve that number by 2024 and the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign will play a key role in achieving this.

"We still want you to enjoy the water, but we also want you to respect the water, acknowledge its dangers and never underestimate its power."

The RNLI urges anyone going on or in the water to let someone know where they are and when they will be back, and to carry a form of communication if at all possible.

If you do see someone in trouble, please do not enter the water to assist unless you are a trained lifesaver. Always dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Lifeguards - As RNLI lifeguards prepare to bring the 2015 season to a close this weekend in Northern Ireland, the charity that saves lives at sea has appealed to anyone planning a trip to the beach during the autumn and winter months to keep safe.

The season will draw to an end this Sunday 27 September, and RNLI lifeguard manager Mike Grocott is keen to remind anyone going to the beach post season to be aware that the lifeguards won’t be on patrol but that the same beach safety advice applies.

"While we can expect our beaches to be generally quieter in the coming months, there will be people using the water for activities such as surfing and kitesurfing.

"In the absence of RNLI lifeguards during this period, we would encourage anyone going to the beach to check weather and tide times, let someone know when you are due back, and carry a means of communication.

"If you see someone in trouble, please call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. People can also get advice at their local RNLI lifeboat station."

During the 2015 season there was RNLI lifeguard cover on 10 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down: Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

Five of the busier beaches were patrolled during the Easter period and at weekends from then till the middle of June before the full time season commenced on all 10 beaches running to 6 September. Lifeguards have maintained a presence at the busier beaches at weekends during September and will finish on Sunday evening.

Reflecting on the season, Grocott said the lifeguards had dealt with a variety of incidents. "Despite the weather being unkind for most of the summer, we did see a lot of visitors to our beaches and RNLI lifeguards dealt with a range of things including rescues and major first aids involving body boarders, paddle boarders and kite surfers.

"They also responded to people who got into difficulty on the beach itself including a teenager who collapsed and a man who was struggling to breathe in his car.

"There were a number of unusual incidents to deal with this summer too, including responding to a sand dune fire, red flagging beaches in a severe thunder and lightning storm and dealing with the discovery of mortar bombs. Our lifeguards are highly skilled and trained and thanks to that they knew how to handle such incidents professionally when they occurred."

The lifeguards also provided safety cover and engaged with the public at key events during the summer including the Portrush Raft Race, the Tall Ships in Belfast, the Portrush Airshow, and the Glens of Antrim triathlon.

"We worked closely with our lifeboat crews at Portrush, Newcastle, Kilkeel and Red Bay, too, to respond to incidents and provide safety cover when required."

RNLI lifeguards also delivered education programmes to primary school children across Northern Ireland. Programmes such as Hit the Surf enabled the lifeguards to impart important beach safety advice through theoretic and practical lessons in lifesaving and surf-based skills, local hazards and the beach environment.

Published in Water Safety

#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
Page 7 of 18


  • Take the Helm, Malahide Sailing Club, April 13th & 14th
  • Royal St George Invitational, RStGYC, May 25th & 26th
  • Mixed Pairs Team Racing Event, Galway, June 22nd & 23rd
  • Take the Helm 2, Venue TBC, September 21st & 22nd (Provisional)
  • 2K Keelboat Team Racing, Dun Laoighaire, September 28th & 29th
  • ITRA National Championships, Baltimore, October 18th-20th

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Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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