With the current heat wave enveloping the county new pilot initiatives are being introduced to increase safety on Donegal’s beaches. Last year saw massive crowds converge on Rossnowlagh beach where it was estimated there could have been up on 8,000 sun worshippers. As the tide came in there was major gridlock on the beach as cars scrambled to get out. Fortunately there were no casualties or incidents but it is a scene that the authorities do not wish to see occurring again.
This year the Coast Guard staff and volunteers are to issue children with plastic ID bands in a bid to prevent the repeat of the chaos on Rossnowlagh beach last year.
Dara O’Malley Daly, a member of the Coast Guard, the Irish Water Safety Association and Irish Surf Rescue told the Democrat “Last year we had several children going missing - with such crowds it was practically impossible to locate their parents - we were lucky that there were no major incidents.
“The Sligo rescue helicopter and lifeboat crews were forced to scramble to the beach in an attempt to find on child who later turned up safe and well.
“We discussed the situation with the Mountain Rescue Team but they felt the uses of a helicopter in situations like this wouldn’t be practical as you could have up on 10,000 people waving up at the pilot.”
Dara added, “With the beach weather hopefully sticking around for a while Irish Coast Guard units around the county have started distributing wristbands for children under the ‘Give us a hand’ campaign. “The waterproof wristbands allow parents/ guardians to write their phone number on it and place on a child’s hand. If the child gets lost the phone number can be contacted and everyone reunited quickly.