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19 May 2022

'Never solely rely on a mobile phone' - Water users in Carlow told to be cautious over Bank Holiday

'Never solely rely on a mobile phone' - Water users in Carlow told to be cautious over Bank Holiday

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble; dial 112 or use VHF radio CH 16 and ask for the Coast Guard

People in Carlow and across Ireland are advised to be careful near bodies of water in the lead-up to the May Bank Holiday. 

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland issued a joint statement this week appealing for people to be cautious this weekend, particularly as the weather improves. 

The three organisations are drawing particular attention to sea kayaking and similar activities, and advise people to receive proper training before going on the water. 

They also advise carrying a reliable means of calling for help and telling someone the location and times of activities. 

Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager, Micheál O’Toole, commented ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and said, "It is important to have a means of communication if engaging in any water based activity. When boating, carry a VHF radio, backed up by flares PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Never solely rely on a mobile phone.

"Prior to undertaking any boat activity please ensure that equipment is fit for purpose and that a shore-based contact is aware of your plans and estimated duration." 

The following tips are recommended for water safety: 

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

As high tides range from midday to early evening depending on the coastal area, it is important that people check before walking along the coast. 

The organisations are reminding people of water temperatures remaining cold even at this time of year, and that cold water shock can affect everyone.

They advise everyone intending to take part in any water-based activity or coastal walks to take some basic steps in advance to keep safe.

Swimmers are advised to be aware of cold temperatures and wear a wetsuit to stay warm, acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase visibility. 

People should never swim alone and always ensure activity is being monitored by a colleague. 

RNLI Water Safety Lead, Kevin Rahill, added: "Many people will be taking to the water for the first time this year and this is a good time to think about checking your equipment, especially your lifejacket. We recommend that people get their lifejackets serviced annually. 

"Not everyone intends to end up in 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." 

For visitors and people new to Ireland, the RNLI has arranged translated safety resources in many languages. 

Water Safety Ireland’s Acting CEO, Roger Sweeney, said, "Muscle cooling due to hypothermia is a factor in many drownings. Swim within your depth and keep it short as warm air does not mean warm water, especially in May. Children require close, constant, uninterrupted supervision. 

"When shoreline walking, beware of being stranded by incoming tides. Many recently arrived Ukrainians have never visited a beach and are unfamiliar with such stranding risks." 

Translated resources are available here

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble; dial 112 or use VHF radio CH 16 and ask for the Coast Guard. 

Be Summer Ready at www.gov.ie/summerready

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