2020 brought Scots many things, some a lot more welcome than others but one welcome gift was a renewed love for the outdoors and, in some cases, Scotland’s coast and waterways.
As a result, the RNLI in Scotland saw a 300% increase in call outs to people struggling with their paddleboards and assisted 171% more kayakers than in 2019.
Therefore, if Santa did bring you a paddleboard or Kayak, you should re-check your stocking to see if he also brought you, a waterproof pouch for your phone, a buoyancy aid and a nice wetsuit to keep you cosy. 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 RNLI’s Water Safety Lead in Scotland and volunteer lifeboat crew member, Michael Avril said: “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!”
From rough winter seas to changing tides and unstable and eroding clifftop edges, our coasts and seas can be dangerous places. Therefore, before you set-off, 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 too 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.