Accidental drowning on the Irish coast is a very real danger and the RNLI wants to highlight the dangers that come with activity around the coast. With the great weather we are having many people are heading to the coast and the RNLI message is clear and simple – Respect the Water.
The RNLI annual national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, is looking to warn the public to watch out for key dangers that can catch people out in or near water.
The RNLI is warning of the key dangers that can lead to accidental drowning – cold water, unexpected entry into the water, and rip currents and waves.
While the campaign is primarily aimed at males aged between 16 and 39 (Between 2011 and 2014, men accounted for nearly two thirds (65%) of the region’s coastal deaths), the same advice is relevant for anyone visiting the coast.
Speaking as Respect the Water was launched, Rogan Wheeldon, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager said: ‘We want everyone to enjoy the water. However, it is powerful and unpredictable and people need to treat it with respect. Each year RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards rescue hundreds of people around the coasts of Northern Ireland but sadly, not everyone can be saved. The real tragedy is that many of these deaths could have been prevented.’
‘Cold water is a real killer, People often don’t realise how cold our waters can be – even in summer months the temperature rarely exceeds 12 degrees, which is cold enough to trigger cold water shock. If you enter the water suddenly at that temperature, you’ll start gasping uncontrollably, which can draw water into your lungs and cause drowning. The coldness also numbs you, leaving you helpless – unable to swim or shout for help.
‘The fact that over half of the people who die around our coast each year never planned to enter the water serves as a warning to us all to stay away from cliff edges, particularly where there is slippery, unstable, unstable or uneven ground; stick to marked paths and keep an eye on the water – watch out for unexpected waves which can catch you out and sweep you into the water.
‘If you’re planning to enter the water be aware that, even if it looks calm on the surface, there can be strong rip currents beneath the surface, which can quickly drag you out to sea. The sea is powerful and can catch out even the strongest and most experienced swimmers.’
The charity is asking people to visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater where they will find information on coastal hazards, how to keep themselves safe, and what to do should they someone else end up in trouble in the water. On social media search #RepectTheWater.