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Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland issue joint warning ahead of bank holiday weekend

The organisations are advising people to take care in and on the water or along the coastline.

THE IRISH COAST Guard, the RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint call urging people to take basic precautions and take care in and on the water or along the coastline this bank holiday weekend.

The organisations are advising people planning on taking part in any water-based or coastal activities to check in advance what they should do to keep safe. 

For those planning on heading out on the water or visiting the coast, the organisations have outlined a few steps to take in advance:

  • Always check the weather and tides
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm (i.e., phone or VHF radio)
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device on the water
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off

People planning on heading out to swim are being asked to wear a bright swimming cap and to consider using a tow float to increase their visibility. 

The organisations warned that water temperatures are still cold at this time of year, making cold water shock a danger. Anyone heading for a swim should consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm.

They said it’s also important to acclimatise slowly when entering the water.

The organisations also stressed that someone should always monitor a swimmer’s activity while they’re in the water, and urged people never to swim alone. 

“Many people will take the opportunity of the Easter long weekend to visit the coast and take part in coastal or water-based activity. Having some basic water safety knowledge in advance could make an enormous difference and even save a life. People need to be mindful that the water is very cold at this time of year, and it is easy to be caught out by tides,” Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said. 

He said that the Coast Guard extends a special welcome to members of the Ukrainian community, and said it is mindful that they may be unfamiliar with Irish tides and local currents. 

“We would encourage the wider public to be mindful of this risk and be alert to people recreating in unsuitable areas, especially in areas that can become isolated with changing tidal conditions,” he said.

RNLI Water Safety Lead Kevin Rahill said that by taking a few simple steps, everyone can reduce the risk of an accident in or near the water.

“If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby,” he said.

He added that the RNLI have a range of translated safety resources in many languages which are available to download on the RNLI website

Water Safety Ireland’s Acting CEO Roger Sweeney warned that it is better to be safe than sorry. “Easter is a time when many people enjoy their first swim of the year, but Lifeguards have not yet started the patrols that rescue hundreds every season,” he said.

“Swim with others and keep it short, pay attention to local authority signs, and help to keep Ukrainians in your community safe by prompting them to the translated advice at www.watersafety.ie/ukraine.”

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