Emergency services are appealing to people to stay within 5km of home this bank holiday weekend following a surge in callouts and three dramatic sea rescues this week.
The RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews have launched 30 times in the last 10 days compared to just 45 callouts during the coronavirus restrictions. And with temperatures set to soar to almost 27C this weekend, the charity is concerned that lives may be lost as more people begin visiting the coast.
Several tragedies were averted this week as emergency services were tasked to incidents including people cut off by the tide, people stranded on rocks, swimmers and kayakers in difficulty, children blown out to sea on inflatables, and leisure craft in trouble.
On Thursday, a six-year-old boy was swept out to sea on a surfboard at Renville in White Strand, north of Cleggan, Co Galway. He was brought to safety by the owner of a local boat.
At around the same time in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, a five-year-old girl being swept out to sea on an inflatable toy was saved by a coast guard winchman who jumped into the water to keep her afloat until a lifeboat arrived.
The day before, four young men who got into difficulty while swimming in Inchydoney in Cork were rescued by onlookers. All four were saved by people on the beach.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said there were large crowds on the beach at the time, and gardaí also had to ask several who had traveled out of their 5km zone to leave:
“With the nice weather we are experiencing, we all want to get out and enjoy ourselves. But we cannot be complacent and we need to act responsibly.
I would ask that everyone stays within the 5km of their home and to not get involved in activities like swimming where there are no lifeguards present.
"Wednesday’s incident could have been a tragedy.”
Cork County Council chief executive, Tim Lucey, confirmed that lifeguards will be on duty at selected beaches from today: “We would appeal to all to be responsible and choose a lifeguarded beach within your 5km limit if you are going for a swim.
"Adopt a ‘swim and go’ policy. Warm air temperature does not mean that the water is warm. It is still too cold for extended swims and doing so places you at risk of hypothermia."
Senior Irish Coast Guard officer, Gerard O’Flynn, urged people who see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or even think they see someone in trouble, to dial 112 or use Marine VHF channel 16 and ask for the Coast Guard.