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Coast Guard and RNLI issue joint call to stay safe on the water over Christmas

The Irish Coast Guard and the volunteer RNLI have issued a joint statement asking people to take care when they’re out on the water or at the coast over Christmas.

The two organisations have issued a joint statement asking people to heed simple safety advice if they’re involved in any activity around the water.

Many accidents and tragedies take place involving people who never expected to end up in the water.

It’s dangerous enough to be around water at any time, but during the Christmas period where many people will be consuming more than the usual amount of alcohol, it’s extra important to take care.

RNLI Lifesaving Manager Sean Dillon said, “It is much easier than people realise to get into trouble in the water.”

“Whatever activity you are doing, make sure you are aware of the dangers, know your limits and do not take risks.”

Over the past ten years at Christmas and New Year’s, RNLI lifeboats have been deployed 137 times and assisted 57 people in Ireland.

“While all the search and rescue services stand ready to help people, being prepared and taking some basic safety advice can avoid an accident or a serious tragedy,” Mr Dillon said.

Some key pieces of advice the Coast Guard and RNLI are advising people to heed when around the water are:

  • Stay Back – Stay High – Stay Dry when engaged in coastal walks and avoid any unfamiliar routes and be mindful of changes caused by coastal erosion and the risk of trip, slips and falls.
  • Ensure that pets are kept under control in case they get into difficulty and cause owners to risk their own safety in rescuing them.
  • Remember to carry a suitable means to call for help such as mobile phone, vhf radio or Personal Locator Beacon.
  • If engaged in any boating activities Do Wear an appropriate personal flotation device – it could save a life.
  • If going out alone, tell someone ashore of your plans and what time you expect to be back.
  • For anybody engaged in a Christmas or New Year swim only participate in an organised swim that has appropriate safety and support facilities.

The RNLI’s ‘Float to Live’ message advises people who fall into cold water unexpectedly to fight their instinct to swim until the cold-water shock passes.

Instead they should stop and float on their back until they catch their breath and bearings, then either call for help or swim to land if it’s nearby.

The Coast Guard wants to reiterate its similar message to Stay Afloat – Stay in Contact, telling people that if they can stay afloat and raise the alarm, then they have a good chance of being rescued.

Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager Gerard O’Flynn said “At this time of year people love to get out and about.”

“Do so safely and act sensibly and wisely and; if in doubt shout. Coast Guard services will be fully operational over the holiday period.”

If you see anyone in distress in the water or along the coast, dial 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Briain Kelly
Email: news@galwaydaily.com
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