Over the past number of weeks, there has been a noted increase in the number of incidents in relation to open water swimming resulting in increased demands being placed on SAR organisations including Coast Guard and RNLI.
Over the past week a number of incidents have been reported from around the country. Most people who participate in open water swimming do so safely. However, at times, those who are new to the sport may be unaware of important safety measures which can help them avoid getting into difficulty.
Mindful of the increased level of participation in open water swimming and an increased demand being placed on SAR services, the Coast Guard and the RNLI are asking the public to familiarise themselves with key safety measures before engaging in the activity.
Open water swimming is a relatively safe activity when done with the correct knowledge and some preparation. Also those who are new to the sport can protect their own well-being by observing some key safety precautions.
Commenting on the increase in activity Coast Guard Head of Operations, Gerard O’Flynn said: "At the outset we are grateful that anybody who sees someone in trouble or thinks they may be in trouble, dials 112 and alerts the Coast Guard. Seasoned open water swimmers have a great deal of experience and do observe proper safety precautions. However the dangers this time of the year far outweigh the challenges that apply in summer time."
RNLI Water Safety Lead, Kevin Rahill, added: "Cold water and currents can tire a swimmer quickly and make it harder to return to shore. Lifeboat crews are seeing a lot more callouts to people who are taking part in water based activities by themselves and while it is great to enjoy our beautiful waters, this time of year, the water temperature drops and of course it is dark for longer."
The Coast Guard and RNLI have shared the following safety advice for swimmers, highlighting the dangers of swimming alone and the importance of being monitored from the shore.
If you see somebody in trouble or think they are in trouble
Dial 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.
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