RNLI’s Water Safety warning as Isle of Man enters lockdown

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging anyone using the coast for daily exercise during the island’s lockdown to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks. The charity has issued advice amidst concerns about any additional pressures being placed on volunteer RNLI crews operating from Ramsey, Peel, Port St Mary, Douglas and Port Erin. 

Like RNLI volunteers in the UK and Ireland, Manx RNLI volunteers will be on call 24/7 throughout the lockdown period, 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 Isle of Man Government guidance asking people to avoid exercise or activities that may put you in danger as it may put additional pressure on emergency and health services.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead for the Isle of Man says: ‘During lockdown, RNLI lifeboats on the Isle of Man remain operational and will launch around the clock where there is risk to life. 

‘We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines on what they are able to do and where they are able to go during lockdown, but for anyone visiting 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 
  • If going afloat, always wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device and take a means of calling for help
  • Check your equipment is in good working order
  • Be aware of the conditions and your capabilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so
  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
  • Additional safety advice at www.rnli.org/safety
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