The Irish Coastguard has reiterated an appeal to people not to take inflatable toys into open water after a man was rescued following 10 hours in the water off Co Louth.
The Irish Coastguard’s head of operations, Gerard O’Flynn, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that inflatable toys are “back garden toys” and said “that’s as far as they should go.”
Mr O’Flynn explained that the rescued man, who is in his late 40s, had gone out on the water at Whitestown Beach, Dundalk at around midday.
The man was in a “small inflatable dinghy of some description.” It was an inflatable toy which should not be used in open water at sea, on a lake or on a river.
Gardaí alerted the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) at around 9.45pm when a full search and rescue mission was launched.
Several groups were involved in the rescue, including the marine rescue coordination centre in Dublin, Kilkee lifeboat, rescue helicopter 116, a local pilot boat named the ‘Mourne Mist’ and a kayaker.
The kayaker was the first to reach the man, who was separated from his inflatable, but was wearing a personal flotation device which “contributed to his survival.”
“He had a narrow escape,” added Mr O’Flynn. The tides at the mouth of Carlingford Lough can be quite strong, he added.
It comes as a Minister of State in the Department of Transport has issued a water safety appeal to the public in the lead up to the August Bank Holiday weekend.
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Tragically, last week we saw a total of seven drownings on the island of Ireland in seven days
Hildegarde Naughton said: “Tragically, last week we saw a total of seven drownings on the island of Ireland in seven days, the majority of which were on inland waterways. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the loved ones of those we have lost at sea on their heart-breaking and untimely loss.
“This loss of lives in as many days provides a stark reminder to us all as to how quickly serious accidents can happen. This Bank Holiday weekend we can all make personal decisions which will go a long way towards staying safe in the water, such as ensuring that swimmers are accompanied, not using inflatables, [and] letting friends or family know your planned return time.”
The Irish Coastguard has seen a major growth in demand for assistance this year and to date has coordinated responses to a total of 1,763 incidents, an increase of 400 for the same period last year and 150 more than any year over the last five.