Stop. Think. Stay Safe. RNLI in Scotland issues important safety advice before easing of lockdown
The RNLI in Scotland has reacted to the Scottish Government’s plans for easing lockdown with an important safety warning.
The government plans which will permit people to travel short distances, limited to five miles within their local area, for exercise including allowing outdoor swimming, kayaking and angling have prompted the lifesaving charity to call for the public to stay safe.
“With an unusually warm spring coupled with the easing of a lockdown which has seen many of us unable to visit our favourite beaches, we expect many people to be eager to hit the coast.” said Jacob Davies, RNLI Lifesaving Manager for Scotland.
“However, just because the lockdown restrictions are being relaxed does not mean our coasts are safe, the dangers that have always been there remain. We ask those who are local to beaches to continue to be aware of the inherent dangers and to avoid taking risks. Our strong advice to the Scottish public, who are not local to a beach, is to exercise locally and not to travel to the coast. Scotland’s air temperature may be warming up but the sea temperature remains consistently chilly all year, jumping or falling into cold water or spending longer periods than normal submerged in the water can lead to, potentially fatal, cold water shock.”
Michael Avril, Scotland’s Water Safety Lead for the RNLI and Chair of Water Safety Scotland said: “The Scottish public need to remember the following safety advice: Stay in familiar surroundings, follow Scottish Government advice of remaining within five miles of your home, don’t put yourself, your family and emergency services at risk by taking risks or assuming it ‘won’t happen to you’. If you do see someone at risk call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Speaking on behalf of Girvan Lifeboat, Callum Govus, Coxswain/Mechanic said: “We understand that many people will have been missing trips to the coast and will be eager for a change of scene or activity. However, we are really asking the public for their help. Our team of dedicated volunteers is always there to help but, in order to attend a shout, we must break physical distancing instructions, putting ourselves and our families at risk. We also cannot be everywhere at once, if we see a sudden increase in people visiting Girvan & surrounding beaches our volunteer run service could struggle to meet demand. Therefore, we are asking people to still stay local, don’t drive to visit the coast, if you’re a local then please stay aware of the inherent risks, for example if angling or participating in water sports such as kayaking etc. please be aware of your surroundings, weather, tides etc. ensure others know where you are and expected return time and always have the means of calling for help.
The message from the RNLI in Scotland is clear, an easing of lockdown does not mean an instantly safer coast and water temperatures remain dangerously cold. The charity will be running a restricted lifeguard service on a couple of the nation’s beaches however, as per usual, this service will not be starting until later in June.