The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging anyone who is able under government guidelines to visit the local coast during lockdown, to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks that may put extra pressure on emergency services.
As the UK and Ireland enter new nationwide lockdowns, RNLI lifeboats will continue to launch. However every time a lifeboat crew is called to an incident, it puts additional pressure on RNLI volunteers and other front line emergency services. In addition to this it also potentially exposes them to Covid-19.
The lifesaving charity is asking local residents to follow government guidelines and think carefully if they live close to the coast. Current government advice is to 'Stay Home' unless absolutely neccessary. It is recognised that exercise is permitted, but anyone doing so at the coast should be aware of the dangers at this time of year.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for the North West says: ‘During lockdown, RNLI lifeboats and stations remain operational and will launch around the clock where there is risk to life.
‘We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines on what they are able to do and where they are able to go during lockdown, but for anyone visiting a coastal area please understand the risks to be as safe as possible and not put unnecessary strain on front line services. No one ever heads to the coast with the expectation of needing to be rescued yet rescues are occurring every day.
‘In a normal year around 150 people lose their lives at the coast and we know that more than half of those never intended to be in the water. So, whether you are walking, running or cycling at the coast, or doing some activity on or in the water, please be extra responsible and avoid taking unnecessary risks.’
Chris added: ‘We’re urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe. In particular at this time of, we ask people to stay well back from stormy, wintery seas and cliff edges, check tide times before you go, take a phone with you, and call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard if you or someone else is in trouble.’
The RNLI’s key water safety advice is:
- Take care if walking near cliffs - know your route and keep dogs on a lead
- Check tide times daily
- Take a full-charged phone
- If going afloat, always wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device and take a means of calling for help
- 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
- In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
- Additional safety advice at www.rnli.org/safety
Local people are urged to follow government guidelines and not travel but stay close to their local area during current lockdown situation.