2021 proved to be a busy year with an almost 20% increase in callouts, placing extra demand on Search and Rescue providers, including Coast Guard and RNLI volunteer crews.
They are also highlighting the risks of suffering cold water shock, which is a danger for anyone entering water 15°C or below. Average sea temperature around Ireland at this time of year are just 6-10°C, which can pose a risk of hypothermia, even for the most experienced of open water swimmers.
Irish Coast Guard, Operations Manager Micheál O’Toole said:
"We wish to say a special thank everybody involved in SAR for their commitment and service in these extraordinary times with a special thank you to the volunteer members of the rescue services.
"People love to get out and about over the Christmas and New Year period. For those who have an opportunity to go on coastal walks always remember to Stay Back Stay High Stay Dry – and this year please be especially mindful of Covid related restrictions".
"It is important to distinguish between the traditional Christmas quick dip and longer swims," he added. "Open water swimming at this time of the year is only for experienced participants and never ever swim alone."
RNLI Regional Lifesaving Lead Owen Medland added:
"Our wish for everyone planning a trip to the coast or a festive swim is that they do so safely. We urge everyone to be extra cautious and understand the risks and know how to stay safe, before entering cold water. Please follow the right advice for your activity and always carry a means of calling for help."
"As we come to the end of the year, we would like to thank all those involved in search and rescue around the coast of Ireland and on inland waters. These dedicated men and women, many of whom are volunteers, will remain on call over the Christmas period and New Year, ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water."