As schools in Northern Ireland prepare for the midterm break, the RNLI and Coast Guard are reminding everyone to stay safe if they are heading for the coast or visiting the local waterways at the approach of autumn.
During last year’s mid-term vacation, RNLI lifeboats across Ireland and the UK were launched 143 times and helped 78 people as its volunteer crews tended to everything from tidal cuts and struggling paddleboarders to slides and trips on coastal trails, as well as ships in distress.
Lisa Hollingum, RNLI Water Safety Delivery Support, said: âWith the best weather behind us for the year, we ask those visiting the coast and inland waterways this semester to consider the dangers.
âOur lifeboats often save those cut off by the tide on coastal walks, so we encourage you to check the tide times and make sure you have planned to come back safely before the water level. do not go up.
âFor those planning a coastal walk, also consider the terrain as what may appear to be firm ground can, in fact, be very soft sand or mud, which means people could get stuck.
âIf you are sailing inland waterways, plan your trip and allow for shorter evenings to allow enough time to reach your overnight anchorage.
âOver the next few months, sea and lake conditions will become more difficult and unpredictable, leading to many additional dangers. Large waves will crash onto the shore, increasing the risk of people being swept away, as well as coastal erosion causing cliffs to fall making some areas more dangerous.
âAround 140 people lose their lives around the Irish and UK coasts, including on inland waterways each year, and more than half never even planned to enter the water. If you find yourself in the water unexpectedly, FLOAT for a living fighting your instinct to struggle, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float until you take control of the water. your breathing, before deciding to call for help or swim to safety. ‘
Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: âAutumn is a great time to explore the UK’s coastal areas and waterways, the summer crowds are gone and the weather is perfect for a stroll. However, the sun can quickly disappear making the temperature much colder and the lifeguards who were present in high season are no longer on most beaches. It is essential at this time of year to prepare before heading for the coast.
âAs always, we are prepared for emergencies, but please take note of the safety advice and don’t take any chances. If you see someone in trouble, don’t go into the water yourself to try to save them, call 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.
The main RNLI coastal safety tips are:
- Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times, read local hazard signs and let someone know where you are going and when you intend to return
- Keep an eye on your family and keep dogs on a leash near the edge of the cliffs
- If you walk or run, be aware that coastal paths, boardwalks, and jetties can be slippery or prone to breaking waves.
- If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT to Live. Fight your struggling instinct, lean back and relax, extending your arms and legs
- In case of emergency, dial 999 and ask for the coast guard