With the Scottish Government ‘stay at home’ message set to end on Friday, the RNLI in Scotland is urging people to take extra care should they be heading to the coast this Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
Last summer the RNLI saw an increase to shouts as Scots took to the coast. Therefore, government plans which will permit people to travel freely within their local authority area has prompted the lifesaving charity to call for the public to stay safe.
“The change in restrictions we will see from Friday 2 April allows for greater travel in your local authority areas. With that, we expect many people to be eager to hit the coast.” said Jill Hepburn, 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.”
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, don’t put yourself, your family and emergency services in danger by taking risks or assuming it ‘won’t happen to you’. If you do see someone in difficulty in the water or at the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Speaking on behalf of Kippford RNLI, Gareth Jones, Lifeboat Operations Manager 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, our stations at Kippford and Kirkcudbright are really asking the public for their help. Our teams of dedicated volunteers have remained on call throughout the pandemic 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 the beaches and bays around Kippford and Kirkcudbright our volunteer run service could struggle to meet demand. Therefore, we are asking people to stay aware of the inherent risks. Be aware of local tide times and areas with tidal access, if sailing remember to be aware of your capabilities and try to always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.”
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.