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safety warning Coast Guard and RNLI join forces in effort to warn people of dangers this Bank Holiday weekend

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Tori O'Brien (7) from Balbriggan making waves at Portrane Beach with her cousin Freya Maher (10) from Rathfarnham. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Tori O'Brien (7) from Balbriggan making waves at Portrane Beach with her cousin Freya Maher (10) from Rathfarnham. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Tori O'Brien (7) from Balbriggan making waves at Portrane Beach with her cousin Freya Maher (10) from Rathfarnham. Photo: Steve Humphreys

With the first summer bank holiday weekend upon us, the Coast Guard and RNLI have joined in a concerted effort to warn people of the dangers along the coasts and inland waterways. 

Even though Met Eireann is predicting a mixed bag weather-wise over the weekend, both authorities are asking people to take precautions when engaged in water based or coastal activities.

This follows an increase in the number and a broadening in the type of incidents requiring Coast Guard and RNLI intervention.

RNLI Lifesaving Manager Sean Dillion said volunteer lifeboat crews around the coast and on inland waters are expecting a busy season as more people are out enjoying the water.

“Many of the callouts we deal with could have been avoided with some simple preparation and planning,” he said. “We want people to be safe on the water and enjoy themselves. Whatever activity you are planning please take a few minutes to check the relevant safety advice and always dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard if you see someone in trouble on the water.”

Coast Guard, Head of Operations Gerard O’Flynn added: “Don’t assume that just because we have clear skies and warmer temperatures it is safe to engage in all coastal activities. Please familiarise yourself with weather and tidal information and take the time to observe prevailing conditions before you commence.”

He pointed out that the Coast Guard has noted a “very significant increase in the number of incidents being coordinated”, in comparison with previous years. Activity levels have not only exceeded 2020 but are also at a five-year high.

With open water swimming becoming increasingly popular, both agencies have noticed an increase in the number of people taking part, whether with a short dip or going for longer swims.

“Wear a brightly coloured swim cap to be visible and consider using a tow float. Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is monitored by a colleague ashore,” the advice reads. “Water temperatures are still relatively cold at around 10 degrees making cold water shock a danger. It is also important to acclimatise when entering the water.”

Meanwhile, gardaí and the RSA have urged drivers to put the phone away while driving over bank holiday weekend.

In a statement gardai said a total of 66 people were killed or seriously injured in May Bank Holiday crashes over last five years.

And new research from the RSA shows that one in 10 motorists admit to regularly texting while driving.

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According to the Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2020, nine per cent of motorists admit to driving and talking on a handheld mobile phone while another nine per cent regularly check mobile apps while behind the wheel.

International research has found that you are four times more likely to crash if using a handheld phone while driving.

Inspector Ian O’Callaghan, Cork West Divisional Roads Policing Unit, said: "Any interaction with a mobile phone while driving is dangerous behaviour that affects your ability to drive safely and puts the user and others at risk.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, added: "In today’s world, mobile phones demand more and more of our attention. International research has shown that the risk of a collision when using a handheld mobile phone is four times higher.

Mr Sam Waide, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: "If you take your eyes off the road for just one second, a car moving at 50km/h will travel 14 metres - that’s approximately four car lengths. That is 14 metres where a driver is not paying attention to the road. Taking a call, sending a text or checking your apps while driving is dangerous behaviour which could result in catastrophic consequences for you or some other road user. So put the phone away, it is not worth the risk.

A total of 8 people have been killed and 58 people seriously injured over the May Bank Holiday weekend between 2016-2020.

To date in 2021, a total of 39 people have died on Irish roads, 14 less than the same period in 2020.

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