The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is advising the public that they should not take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea, to reduce the risk to the lifesaving charity’s volunteer crews and other emergency services being exposed to COVID-19, and the pressure on their time.
Under normal circumstances, many people would be heading to the coast this weekend to enjoy the Easter bank holiday. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, the RNLI is urging everyone to follow Government instructions, which are clear: stay home and save lives.
While you are allowed out for daily exercise, the RNLI does not recommend that this exercise is on or in the sea. The charity’s lifeboat service is still available but every time a lifeboat crew is called to an incident, it puts additional pressure on RNLI volunteers and other front line emergency services as well as potentially exposing them to COVID-19.
Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI, said: ‘We know people who live at the coast still want to exercise by the sea, but when you do this, please think of the potential impact of your actions on RNLI lifeboat volunteers and other emergency services. While you could be fully competent and never needed to be rescued, by going out on the water you could encourage others who are less proficient to take part in similar activities.
‘Since lockdown was introduced around the UK and Irish coast, our lifeboats have been called out all too often to rescue people. So if you do go for a walk or a run at the coast, please follow the RNLI’s safety advice.’
Take care near cliffs – know your route and your limitations
Check the weather forecast and tide times
If you fall into the water unexpectedly FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard
Gareth added: ‘Our lifeboat crews are still at the ready 24/7 – thanks to their own courage in a time of crisis, and the generosity of our supporters. Sadly, though, we can’t arrange fundraising events, open our shops, or welcome people to lifeboat stations at the moment, which means our ability to fundraise has been severely impacted. This could be the biggest storm the RNLI has ever faced.
‘If people feel compelled to show their support from home, we ask them to help by giving something that keeps our volunteers ready to launch, replaces worn-out kit or helps us repair a lifeboat. To support our lifesavers, go to : www.rnli.org/donate’