Union Hall RNLI and Castlehaven GAA to work together on drowning prevention campaign

Castlehaven senior club with Stormy Stan

UNION Hall lifeboat station and Castlehaven 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.

The partnership was launched recently in West Cork when lifeboat crew from Union Hall RNLI and players from Castlehaven GAA club visited the lifeboat station and the club’s grounds to see how each facility is set up. A live water safety demonstration was also staged off Keelbeg pier for TV3’s Paul Byrne to demonstrate the FLOAT message from the charity with the help of Noel Browne, swim ambassador with the healthy club. Cork footballer and proud Castlehaven GAA man Brian Hurley was also on hand and is lending his support to the campaign.

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 Union Hall RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Pamela Deasy 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. Sporting communities can play a major role in preventing deaths by drowning.”

Lisa Deasy, Castlehaven GAA Healthy Club Officer added, “We feel this is a great opportunity to work with the RNLI to help save lives. So many of our volunteers are also lifeboat volunteers and this is a natural partnership for us. Simple advice and information can save lives and the more people we talk to about that the more chance we have of helping others. We look forward to working together to spreading the word about the Respect the Water campaign. “

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 rtw@rnli.org.uk or contact their nearest lifeboat station.