Lifeboat crews in appeal to open-water swimmers as number of emergency incidents increase sharply

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Lifeboat crews are dealing with a surge in call-outs for people who get into difficulty while open-water swimming.

A drop in water temperature
can make it more challenging for people swimming in the open sea, particularly for those new to the sport.

The Irish Coast Guard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said in a safety appeal that, over the past number of weeks, there has been a “noted increase” in the number of incidents in relation to open-water swimming.
 

Over the past week, eight separate incidents arose in the Dublin-Wicklow area lone, with a number of other incidents
around the country.

Coast Guard head of operations, Gerard O’Flynn, said: “
Seasoned open-water swimmers have a great deal of experience and do observe proper safety precautions.

“However, the dangers at this time of year far outweigh the challenges
in summer.”

Meanwhile, RNLI Water Safety Lead, Kevin Rahill, said: “Cold water and currents can tire a swimmer quickly and make it harder to return to shore.

“Lifeboat crews are seeing a lot more call-outs to people who are taking part in water-based activities by themselves
.”

The organisations said that most people who participate in open-water swimming do so safely, but some, and in particular those who are new to the sport, may be unaware of important safety measures
.

The Coast Guard and RNLI have shared safety advice
, including checking weather forecast and understanding the local effects of wind, tides and currents.

In addition, never swim alone
. Slowly acclimatise to cold water to reduce the risk of cold water shock. Wearing a wet suit is advisable
.
 

People are also asked to make sure they are visible from the shore, for instance by wearing a brightly coloured swim cap.

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Source: Irish News