|Posted on June 22, 2017 at 6:50 AM|
‘Sporting communities can play a major role in preventing deaths from drowning’
Dun Laoghaire RNLI and Bray Emmets GAA working together on drowning prevention. Photo: RNLI/Niamh Stephenson
Dun Laoghaire lifeboat station and Bray Emmets GAA are working together on the RNLI’s ‘Respect the Water’ campaign, which aims to reduce the number of people who lose their lives through drowning. The partnership between the lifeboat charity and the sporting organisation was launched nationally in Croke Park earlier this year and now the RNLI is working with GAA clubs and communities locally, throughout the summer, to provide life-saving advice and information.
The ‘Respect the Water’ campaign is being supported through the GAA’s Healthy Clubs initiative and the wider club network. Many GAA clubs are based in coastal communities or near inland waters or rivers and their location makes them ideally placed for sharing information and raising awareness of the causes of drowning and how to prevent it. Each year in Ireland 133 people drown and Respect the Water wants to significant reduce this figure.
As well as sharing key safety messages with fans and supporters at events and matches the RNLI is keen to visit clubs and community groups to talk about drowning prevention and how to keep safe and enjoy the water. The Respect the Water roadshow and the charity’s crew and safety volunteers will deliver talks and demonstrations to all ages.
Lifeboat crew from Dun Laoghaire travelled down to Bray Emmets GAA club in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf Mountain to meet with some of the players and launch the partnership. Bray and the surrounding area falls into Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s operational area of lifeboat cover.
The message of Respect the Water this summer is for people to fight their instincts and remember one core survival skill – floating, until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath, before then trying to swim to safety or call for help. Sudden immersion in cold water puts people at severe risk of suffering cold water shock, which triggers the instinctive but life-threatening reaction to gasp uncontrollably and swim hard, which can quickly lead to drowning.
Commenting on the partnership Dun Laoghaire RNLI volunteer crewmember Damien Payne said, ‘Drowning shatters communities and lifeboat crews have seen the devastation it brings families and loved ones. We believe that many of these deaths are preventable and we need to work with other organisations who want to keep their communities safe. Like a lifeboat station, a GAA club is at the heart of community life. Sport can play a major role in preventing deaths by drowning.’
Frances Stephenson, Bray Emmets GAA Healthy Club Project Lead added ‘With over 900 members in Bray Emmets GAA Club we feel this is a great opportunity to work with the Dun Laoghaire RNLI to help save lives. It was a privilege to be chosen to be part of the GAA RNLI partnership along the east coast. As one of the GAA Healthy Clubs we value links with other community organisations such as the RNLI and look forward to working together to spreading the word about the Respect the Water campaign – together as a team we can achieve more.’
The RNLI will work with the GAA and their volunteers in local communities to promote the campaign and share key safety messages and advice. Anyone looking for more information can email [email protected] or contact their nearest lifeboat station.