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RNLI's Christmas Safety Appeal

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8:03am 28th December 2014

A sea safety warning goes out to Cornwall over the party season.

Over Christmas and New Year in 2013, south-west lifeboats launched 24 times, rescued 13 people and saved two lives.

Volunteers at Falmouth were among the busiest, launching a total of four times, Penlee launched three times and the teams at Looe, St Ives and the Lizard launched once each over the festive period.

The first of Falmouth RNLI's four shouts was on Boxing Day when they were called to reports of a person in a rowing boat seen clinging to a mooring buoy at the King Harry Reach in the River Fal in strong southerly winds.

The following day both lifeboats were tasked to assist two sailing boats into the harbour as they were having difficulties in strong winds and rough sea conditions.

RNLI volunteer crews around the region will remain on call and ready to leave their loved ones at any moment to respond to the sound of the pager.

In the early hours of New Year's Day the volunteer crew of The Lizard and Penlee lifeboats were called out following reports that a man had gone swimming in the sea at Loe Bar but failed to return to the beach.

A large scale search ran through the night in difficult conditions, including rough seas and large surf close to shore.

24 year old Harry Swordy had gone for a dip with mates to see in the New Year but sadly, he lost his life.

This year, RNLI volunteer crews will, once again, remain on call and ready to leave their loved ones at any moment to respond to the sound of the pager.

Andy Hurley, RNLI Regional Operations Manager, says: "Our volunteers show great commitment and dedication in their lifesaving work and continue to be on call every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year. While most people are settling down to spend quality time with their family and friends, volunteer lifeboat crew men and women remain prepared to drop everything should they be needed to help others in trouble at sea. Their commitment is commendable and I thank both them and their loved ones who must also be prepared for Christmas to be disturbed by the call of the pager.

"Tragically in the past we've seen a number of fatalities around the south west coast during Christmas and New Year relating to the water. We want people to enjoy the region's coastline throughout the winter and over the festive period but it's important that they are fully prepared for whatever activity they're doing, with appropriate equipment, clothing and the knowledge of what to do in an emergency. The conditions can be very challenging and unpredictable during the winter and the water is also extremely cold at this time of year with cold water shock being a major risk.

"If people want to go for a dip in the sea over the festive period we'd encourage them to go to an organised and controlled event, of which there are many around the south west on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Whilst there is safety in numbers, even at the organised events swimmers are still responsible for their own safety, so they should think sensibly, consider the weather conditions and know their limits in the water.

"By taking note of our safety advice, I hope this Christmas and New Year is a safe, happy and healthy one for you all."

Click here for more advice on how to stay safe by the coast.

8:03am 28th December 2014

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