Have fun but play safe on the beach too
Donegal's hardy festive revellers taking freezing ocean dips over the Christmas and New Year periods are asked to put safety first at all times.
The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI have called on locals to pay particular attention to their personal safety when engaging in any water based or coastal activities over the Christmas and New Year period.
The two organisations have also issued a joint thank you to their nationwide search and rescue teams for their work during the past twelve months and paid tribute to the men and women who keep our waters and coastal areas safe.
Christmas/New Year Swims:
Swimming in open water is very different to swimming in a pool. Unseen currents, cold water and waves make open water swimming more challenging. Even the strongest swimmers can tire quickly in the sea.
Never swim alone. Always try and take part in an organised swim with safety cover nearby.
Consider wearing a wetsuit and bright coloured hat for longer swims.
Check weather and tide times before you set out.
Always swim parallel to the shore and not straight out. Cold water and currents can tire you out quickly and make it harder to return to shore.
Never swim under the influence of alcohol
If you see someone in trouble, or think they are in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard
For coastal walkers:
Stay Back – Stay High – Stay Dry: when engaged in coastal walks and avoid any unfamiliar routes and be mindful of changes caused by coastal erosion and the risk of trip, slips and falls.
Ensure that pets are kept under control in case they get into difficulty and cause owners to risk their own safety in attempting to rescue them.
For leisure boaters or small fishing boat operators:
Remember to carry a suitable means to call for help such as mobile phone, vhf radio or Personal Locator beacon.
If engaged in any boating activities wear an appropriate personal flotation device – it could save a life.
Before proceeding, tell someone ashore your plans and what time you expect to be back.
· Always check the weather and take heed of any warnings.
Enjoy the fun but swim smart
Irish Coast Guard head of operation, Gerard O’Flynn said: "As we move past the shortest day of the year, everybody looks forward to getting out and about. Please be safety conscious, plan your activity carefully and always advise friends and colleagues of your plans and intentions’.
‘Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centres at Malin, Valentia and Dublin will be fully staffed over the Christmas period as will our day and night Helicopter Search and Rescue services."
He reiterated his thanks to volunteer members of the RNLI and Coast Guard who will continue to be available to respond over the holiday period.
RNLI Lifesaving Manager Sean Dillon added: "This Christmas and New Year we will have over 1,500 lifeboat volunteers ready to drop everything if a call for help comes in. There are many people who are spending Christmas with loved ones this year thanks to the actions of RNLI and Coast Guard crew and for that we are grateful to the men and women who give their time to keep people safe on the water. However, we know that not everyone can be saved and our lifeboat crews are as busy as ever. Following simple safety advice before you set out can prevent a tragedy and give you valuable time to wait for help, if it is needed."
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