The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging anyone lucky enough to live within walking distance of the coast during lockdown to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks that may put extra pressure on emergency services.
With schools across Wales returning to online learning and renewed advice to stay at home, Welsh RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews from Flint to Penarth remain on-call 24/7 ready to drop everything to save lives at sea.
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.
While people are allowed to exercise, the RNLI supports Welsh Government guidance asking people to avoid activities that involve a significant degree of risk like swimming or other exercise at sea.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for Wales says: ‘The advice from the RNLI remains the same since Wales entered lockdown, but with schools moving to online learning, there is potential more families could be exercising on the coast. Our RNLI lifeboats and stations remain fully operational and will launch around the clock where there is risk to life.
‘We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines, but for anyone able to enjoy 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 everyday.
‘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.’
The RNLI and HM Coastguard last month launched a winter coastal safety campaign to highlight the dangers of stormy seas, changing tides and cliffs at this time of year.
Chris added: ‘We’re urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe. In particular at this time of year, 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
- Be aware of the conditions, keep a safe distance from the water and stay away from cliff edges, especially in stormy condition or where there is snow or frozen ground
- In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
Additional safety advice at www.rnli.org/safety