Saturday 10 December 2016

'People drown silently, quickly and sometimes in only inches of water' - Sunseekers urged to take care as Ireland enjoys scorching weather

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 19/07/2016 | 13:40

Demi Ryan (4) and Maya Courtney (4) from Crumlin in Dublin enjoy the weather on Sandymount beach. Photo: Damien Eagers
Demi Ryan (4) and Maya Courtney (4) from Crumlin in Dublin enjoy the weather on Sandymount beach. Photo: Damien Eagers
Alan Kelly serves out the 99's on Dublin's Bull wall. Photo: Gerry Mooney
30/06/2015 (L to R) Amy O Brien & Saoirse Cross Smith both from Lucan enjoying the good weather on Portmarnock Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
30/06/2015 Members of the public enjoying the good weather on Portmarnock Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Baby using sunscreen

With temperatures set to rise to 30C in some parts of the country this week, Irish Water Safety has urged sunseekers to take extreme care when swimming in open water.

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CEO John Leech has advised swimmers to find waterways that are recognised as safe to swim and lifeguarded, and for parents and guardians to actively supervise young children around water.

“People drown silently, quickly and sometimes in only inches of water,” he said in a statement.

“They can drown beside others who are completely unaware. Children are particularly at risk and need constant supervision near water.”

30/06/2015 Members of the public enjoying the good weather on Portmarnock Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
30/06/2015 Members of the public enjoying the good weather on Portmarnock Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

To date, 37 children have died in drowning accidents. Five swimmers have drowned so far this year.

Deputy CEO Roger Sweeney said the risk of drowning increases “dramatically” during periods of warm weather.

“It’s due to people enjoying the break and the holiday atmosphere, they’re lulled into a false sense of security in these very picturesque surroundings,” he told Independent.ie.

“A lot of people tend to shy away from getting training and then they rush to enjoy the warm weather, but getting trained is very important in advance of going to the water.

Alan Kelly serves out the 99's on Dublin's Bull wall. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Alan Kelly serves out the 99's on Dublin's Bull wall. Photo: Gerry Mooney

“The reason these things happen is usually because people overestimate their ability and underestimate the risks.”

IWS also warned swimmers to be vigilant of the Lions Maine Jellyfish being washed up on beaches as it can cause anaphylactic shock.

There have been sightings of the venomous jellyfish reported at Portmarnock, Malahide, Sutton and Bettystown beaches.

Irish Water Safety's tips on swimming in open water this summer

Do:

  • Maintain constant, uninterrupted, responsible supervision of children
  • Teach children water safety skills as early as possible
  • Swim parallel and close to the shore
  • Swim with others, never alone
  • Stay sober
  • Follow instructions from a Lifeguard
  • Pay attention to signs on the beach
  • Beware of currents that may carry you away from a safe exit point
  • Learn to use water sport equipment before trying it out
  • Always wear a life-jacket when fishing or on boats

Don’t:

  • Swim in strange places
  • Swim just after eating
  • Swim when you’re too hot or tired
  • Swim out after any drifting objects
  • Stay in the water too long
  • Use air mattresses
  • Swim out to sea
  • Allow children to push or jump on others

Those who aren’t heading for a swim should also take steps to stay safe during the current hot spell.

Pharmacists have advised sunseekers, especially young children and older people who are more susceptible to dehydration, to be "sun smart" and to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.

30/06/2015 (L to R) Amy O Brien & Saoirse Cross Smith both from Lucan enjoying the good weather on Portmarnock Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
30/06/2015 (L to R) Amy O Brien & Saoirse Cross Smith both from Lucan enjoying the good weather on Portmarnock Beach, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

“Drinking lots of fluids is especially important especially for older people and babies who may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated,” says Carmel Collins, pharmacist and vice-president of the Irish Pharmacy Union.

“We would also like to remind people to wear sunscreen and to talk to their pharmacist if they are unsure what to use. By not being sun smart people are putting themselves at risk.”

The IPU has advised people to drink plenty of fluids and wear lightweight loose-fitting clothing. During the hottest parts of the day, try to stay indoors and out of the sun.

Baby using sunscreen
Baby using sunscreen

If you’re heading out in the sun, always wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, and make sure to reapply your sunscreen regularly.

Ms Collins added: “Some medications, especially some antibiotics, acne preparations, heart tablets and antidepressants, can make skin more sensitive to the sun, resulting in increased risk of sunburn, even on a cloudy day so people should ask their local pharmacist whether this applies to them.”

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