Larne RNLI urges coastal caution over the Easter holidays
Larne RNLI is urging people to be cautious over the Easter holiday period after recording an increase in the number of coastal visitors.
The search and rescue service is encouraging members of the public planning to visit the coast to know the risks, to protect themselves and their families and to heed key sea safety advice.
Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew members have returned to training in the last month with Covid-19 protocols in place and have already seen an increase in the number of people using the coastline for exercise and beaches and bays for open water swimming.
The station has remained operational throughout the pandemic and will continue to launch around the clock where there is a risk to life.
Ahead of the Easter break, Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI Lifeboat operations manager, said: “Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember it can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during spring and early summer when air temperatures may be warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.
“We are reminding anyone planning to enter the water to follow the latest government guidelines on what you are allowed to do and where and to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks as early season conditions are more challenging.
“Basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of getting into difficulty whatever your activity and improve your chance of being found quickly should you find yourself in trouble.”
For activities like kayaking and stand up paddleboard riding, the RNLI recommends people carry a means of calling for help, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and ensure they are wearing the right kit for the water temperature.
“A wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float in an emergency although wearing an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket is still vital,” Allan said.
“For open water swimmers and dippers, please also remember to acclimatise slowly and be visible with a brightly coloured hat.
“When you are going to visit a beach or are going near the water, we recommend that you go with a friend who can call for help should the need arise. If you plan on going into the water, we advise that you go as a pair with someone on the shore who can act as a spotter to call for assistance if needed.
“Always make sure that you have a means to contact someone on the shore if you are going out on a boat or kayak and ensure that your equipment is fully operational especially if it is the first time for it to be used this year after winter and the lockdown period.
“Should you get into difficulty or see someone in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.”
The RNLI’s key safety advice is:
Check weather forecasts, tide times and any local hazard signage to understand local risks;
Take care if walking or running near cliffs – know your route and keep dogs on a lead;
Carry a fully charged phone;
If you get into trouble in the water, FLOAT to live - fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float;
In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
For further information on how to keep safe by the sea visit rnli.org/safety
Click here to read: Co Antrim RNLI volunteers come to the aid of Spanish fishermen
Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.