Water safety officials in Ireland are warning people to be vigilant this weekend due to the full moon causing lower tides that expose greater areas of the coastline, which can be dangerous for walkers or those exploring sandbanks. Those who choose to engage in water-based activities are advised to make sure that they have the proper equipment and know how to use it, and to always carry a means of calling for help.
Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Water Safety Ireland, has urged people to remember that although air temperatures are on the rise, water temperatures remain cold, and extended swims are not advisable. “A full moon on Saturday will make the coastline more precarious, and rip currents will be stronger,” Sweeney said. “Swim within your depth at the lifeguarded waterways listed at www.watersafety.ie/lifeguards/. A full moon also creates lower low tides that will expose even greater areas of the coastline which often tempts walkers to explore sandbanks. Be aware of being trapped by incoming tides, carry a fully charged mobile phone, and please provide constant uninterrupted adult supervision for any children in your care.”
Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager, added to Sweeney’s warning, appealing to everybody to plan for and attend to their personal safety. “We are warning on the dangers of using inflatable toys such as lilos on or near the water, be it seaside, lake or river. Please do not bring such items with you,” he said.
In good weather, people are advised to check the forecast, tide times and sea conditions before setting out. Regular updates should be taken if planning to be out for any length of time. Water temperatures remain cold, and those taking part in any water-based activity are advised to make sure that they have the proper equipment and know how to use it safely.
The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland urge people to always carry a means of calling for help and to keep it within reach at all times. When kayaking or paddleboarding close to shore, conditions can turn quickly, so wearing a buoyancy aid or lifejacket can make a critical difference. If unexpectedly in the water and wearing a lifejacket, it gives vital time to be brought to safety.
For those swimming, acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swim cap, and consider using a tow float to increase visibility. Never swim alone, and swim only in areas that are lifeguarded or that are known locally to be safe.
Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI Water Safety Lead, said: “The fine weather and brighter evenings will encourage more people onto the water, and it’s great to see people out and about and enjoying it. If you fall into the water unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat. It’s ok if your legs sink, we all float differently. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby. Taking a few minutes to check you have taken all the necessary equipment and advice for your activity and knowing what to do in an emergency will give peace of mind and help prevent accidents.”
In summary, those who choose to embark on water-based activities are being advised to take extra precautions this weekend, due to the lower tides caused by the full moon. Cold water temperatures remain an issue, and anyone intending to be in or near the water should ensure they are equipped properly and know how to use the equipment safely. Anyone engaging in water-based activities should also carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach at all times.