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RNLI Respect the Water campaign targets accidental drowning along the coast

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI today launches its annual national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, and this year the charity is warning the public to watch out for key dangers that can catch people out in or near water.

The campaign which will run throughout the summer months comes a week after the RNLI, the Coast Guard and Irish Water Safety issued a joint statement advising caution to those engaged in recreational activities in or near water during hot weather as the number of call outs rose sharply.

Respect the Water aims to highlight the risk of accidental drowning when people are near the coastline by encouraging safer behaviour both in and around the water. The campaign is primarily aimed at males aged between 16 and 39 but the same advice is relevant for anyone visiting the coast.

Coastal fatality figures released by the RNLI show that an average of 23 people die through accidental drowning around the coast of the Republic of Ireland each year.

The RNLI has joined with Irish Water Safety and the School of Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, to develop a drowning fatalities database. The work of the group has found that between 2010 and 2013, 70 lives were lost around the coast of the Republic of Ireland through accidental drowning. 

The RNLI is warning of the key dangers that can lead to accidental drowning - cold water, unexpected entry into the water, and rip currents and waves.

The campaign will reinforce the key message ‘Treat water with respect, not everyone can be saved’ on a range of channels throughout the Summer. These include a poster showing dramatic imagery of the hand of a drowning person reaching for a lifebuoy and hard-hitting cinema advertisements showing the unpredictability of the water and the dangers of cold water shock.

Speaking as Respect the Water was launched, Joe Moore, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager said: ‘We want everyone to enjoy the water. However, it is powerful and unpredictable and people need to treat it with respect. Each year RNLI lifeboat crews rescue hundreds of people around Ireland but sadly, not everyone can be saved. The real tragedy is that many of these deaths could have been prevented.

‘Cold water is a real killer, People often don’t realise how cold our waters can be – even in summer months the water temperature rarely exceeds 12 degrees, which is cold enough to trigger cold water shock. If you enter the water suddenly at that temperature, you’ll start gasping uncontrollably, which can draw water into your lungs and cause drowning. The coldness also numbs you, leaving you helpless – unable to swim or shout for help.

‘The fact that over half of the people who die around our coast each year never planned to enter the water serves as a warning to us all to stay away from cliff edges, particularly where there is slippery, unstable, unstable or uneven ground; stick to marked paths and keep an eye on the water – watch out for unexpected waves which can catch you out and sweep you into the water.

‘If you’re planning to enter the water be aware that, even if it looks calm on the surface, there can be strong rip currents beneath the surface, which can quickly drag you out to sea. The sea is powerful and can catch out even the strongest and most experienced swimmers.’

The charity is asking people to visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater where they will find information on coastal hazards, how to keep themselves safe, and what to do should they someone else end up in trouble in the water. On social media search #RepectTheWater.

Ends

Notes to Editor
• Fatality data provided by Irish Water Safety. The accidental fatality figures (from 2011-2013) are 22, 25 and 23.
• Please see links to the cinema advertisements:
Breathe test: http://www.rnlivideolibrary.org.uk/getvideo.aspx?vid=7t22J7R8
Unexpected entry: http://www.rnlivideolibrary.org.uk/getvideo.aspx?vid=lxfupo5m
Cold water: http://www.rnlivideolibrary.org.uk/getvideo.aspx?vid=qg6T9hNf
• The RNLI’s Community Incident Reduction Managers are available for interview.

RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Ireland on 0876483547 or email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Ireland on 0871254124 or 018900460 or email Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.

 

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland