Last year RNLI lifeguards along the Causeway Coast and in county Down saved 13 lives, aided over 450 people and responded to more than 300 incidents. Meanwhile, lifeboats at the RNLI’s ten stations across Northern Ireland, launched 265 times in 2022, coming to the aid of many people, among whom were 17 lives saved.
The RNLI’s key summer safety advice is:
Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
If you get into trouble 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 and then call for help or swim to safety if you can
Should you get into difficulty in the water or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
The third World Drowning Prevention Day follows a UN resolution on drowning prevention, acknowledging the issue for the first time in its 75-year history.
The RNLI played an important role in the adoption of the UN resolution, working alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO), and national governments of Ireland and Bangladesh to put a focus on drowning prevention.
Speaking ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day, Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead said: "The summer holidays are well underway bringing an increase in the amount of people enjoying our coast and inland water but this does mean there is likely to be an increase in the number of water related incidents as well.
“Many of the incidents our lifeguards or crews attend during the school holidays involve children and teenagers and we would urge everyone – but families in particular – to be aware of the risks and know what to do in an emergency.
“Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling 11 beaches along the Causeway Coast and county Down this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.
"We want people to enjoy the water but urge everyone to think about their own safety, take time to familiarise yourself with our advice and to share this with your family and friends.”
Meanwhile, Richard Wasson, HM Coastguard Community Safety Policy Lead said: "We are lucky to have some fantastic coastline to enjoy here, however it can also be extremely inhospitable and dangerous – if you do see someone in distress in the water we advise the following:
“1. Call for help first. Do not enter the water yourself; 2. Tell the person to relax and Float to Live; 3. Throw the person something that floats such as a life ring.
‘Please keep inflatables such as lilos away from the sea – they are not designed for use at the coast and can very quickly be blown offshore. More of our safety advice can be found on our website here: hmcoastguard.uk/in-an-emergency"