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Dublin: 22°C Sunday 25 July 2021

Video shows the difference a life jacket makes when you fall in Irish waters

The Coast Guard is particularly urging those who take part in shore-related activities to wear life jackets.

THE IRISH COAST Guard released a video today to promote the wearing of life jackets in Ireland, pointing out that two in five people who drown don’t intend to be on or in the water.

The summer safety campaign is particularly aimed at shore related activities like rock fishing. The Coast Guard said that if you fall into the water in Ireland without a life jacket, you dramatically reduce your chance of making it back out alive.

They released this video, to highlight the difference it makes when a person falls into the water wearing a jacket.

Source: Howthcoastguard/YouTube

They also described exactly what happens to the body in those first few minutes after a person falls in without a life jacket:

First minute in the water

Irish waters remain cold all year around and when you fall into the cold water you are trying to catch your breath. As you try to get back to the surface your first breath might be taking water straight to your lungs, enough to mean you are instantly in grave danger of drowning.

Second minute in the water

Falling in fully clothed without a life jacket you are going to struggle to stay afloat. Clothes will immediately absorb water, increasing your weight and add to your struggle.

Third minute in the water

At this stage your arms may not be able to return to the surface quickly enough to keep your head about water, your breath is going to taking in air and water. Calling for help becomes near impossible as you are gasping for every breath to stay alive.

This is how it goes if you are wearing a life jacket:

First minute in the water

You are still going to feel the cold and panic as you first fall into the water. To what extent depends on what clothing you have underneath – wet suit, dry suit etc.

Second minute in the water

You will have quickly returned to the surface and you are now able to stay afloat. You still help but the focus is different. You are not fighting for your life to stay afloat, you can now focus on how to recover to safety or get help.

Third minute in the water

If you can’t recover from the water you now need to move to the second stage, letting the Coast Guard know you are in the water and need urgent help before you get too cold. To do this you’ll need a means of getting connected, ideally a VHF Radio or a smoke flare. On a shore line a whistle might be enough to get someone’s attention to ring the Coast Guard on 112 or 999 for help.

Each year, around 140 people drown in Ireland. Already this summer around Irish Coast Guard personnel say they are witnessing people taking unnecessary risks including bringing children out on the water without any means to stay afloat if they fall in and people fishing in precarious locations without a life jacket.

Read: Body of young man recovered from blowhole in Belmullet>

Read: Four men attempting record breaking row off UK coast rescued by Rosslare RNLI>

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