RNLI and Irish Coast Guard issue safety advice for coastal visitors during COVID-19 outbreak

29 March 2020
By Elaine Murphy

Regardless of restrictions people love travelling to the coast for walks

The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) recently urged anyone planning a visit to the coast to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak and the importance of social distancing and avoiding non-essential contact with others, coastal areas may be seen as providing an opportunity to enjoy fresh air and exercise while adhering to the government’s guidance. However coastal areas can also present dangers of their own and the two organisations are asking people to ensure they follow essential water safety advice.

Take time to note the signage at the approaches to beaches and walkways advising of the local hazards. Check tide times to avoid being cut off and weather conditions before setting out,. If you see someone in difficulty, or suspect they are in difficulty or you get into difficulty yourself, please call 112 or 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.

The advice for people exercising on or near the water is as follows:

  • Take care if walking near cliffs – know your route
  • Check tide times daily
  • If going afloat, carry a means for calling for help and always wear a lifejacket and carry a VHF radio.
  • Check your equipment is in good working order
  • Be aware of the conditions and your capabilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so

Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said: ‘Our beaches and coastal areas may see an increase in visitors in the days and weeks to come, so we’re urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe. ‘As with all public places we’d encourage people to follow guidelines provided by the government to maintain a two-metre distance, follow good hygiene practices and avoid mass gatherings.’

‘During these unprecedented times, we have taken steps to close our lifeboat stations and shops to the public. However RNLI lifeboats and stations remain fully operational and we will still launch to those in peril on the sea.’

Gerard O’Flynn, Irish Coast Guard added: “Please refer to the HSE website for public health information (www. HSE.ie), pay particular attention to guidelines on social distancing including when out and about and as always if you are on the coast or cliffs – Stay Back – Stay High – Stay Dry”

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