RNLI and Coastguard urge caution with Christmas gifts for watersports
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Watersports enthusiasts are being urged to make sure safety gear was part of any Christmas gifts they received to enjoy their favourite sport.
The RNLI is asking if Santa brought you a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or kayak, did you also get a waterproof pouch for your phone, a buoyancy aid and a nice wetsuit in your stocking?
"If those items failed to make it into Santa’s sleigh – and we can’t blame him, it was a hectic year – then it might be time to hit the January sales in order to stay safe on the water," the organisation suggests.
With an increase in visits to the outdoors in summer 2020, the RNLI in Scotland saw a 300 per cent increase in call outs to people struggling with their paddleboards and assisted 171 per cent more kayakers than in 2019.
The RNLI’s water safety lead in Scotland, and volunteer lifeboat crew member, Michael Avril said: “As a crew, we all love our watersports too and there’s nothing like spending some time out on the water, whether you enjoying your surfing or a bit of sea-kayaking but we’d always encourage people, especially those new to their chosen sport, to take precautions and stay safe.
"Don’t let your new Christmas present put you in danger.
"If you’re taking to the water, whether it’s on the sea or in a loch, always carry at least one means of calling for help and keep it on your person, tell people where you’re going and when to expect you back, wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid and don’t take risks. If the weather looks bad then save your adventure for another day!”
Together with the Coastguard, the RNLI are encouraging people to stay safe whether in, on or around water as some of us head out for Hogmanay and New Year’s Day walks and water-based activities.
From rough winter seas to changing tides and unstable and eroding clifftop edges, our coasts and seas can be dangerous places. People are therefore being advised to make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear and carrying a fully-charged mobile phone so that you have a means of contacting family, friends or dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard, in a coastal emergency.
Always let people know when you’ll be back home and don’t be tempted to take a risky photo by a cliff edge or large waves for social media – it could be the last moment you ever capture.
Get familiar with the area you’re visiting by reading local safety information, warnings and advice, and also check tide timings online before you go so that you don’t get caught out.
Open spaces are ideal for dog walking but please keep your furry friends on a lead and if your pet does get into danger, do not attempt to self-rescue your animal or enter the water after your pet. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.