Thursday 13 December 2018

Irish Water Safety's top five tips for safe summer swimming

Making waves at Portmarnock Beach today was Jonathan Field, Artane with his daughters Bobbi (11) and Penny (4).
PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Making waves at Portmarnock Beach today was Jonathan Field, Artane with his daughters Bobbi (11) and Penny (4). PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN

Rachel Farrell

As Ireland prepares for more sunny spells and hot weather, people are being warned to take extra care in the water after 10 deaths by drowning in the last month, according Irish Water Safety.

Met Éireann are predicting a "heatwave" next week with temperatures set to hit up to 29 degrees. Ahead of the scorching sunshine, Irish Water Safety are urging people to take the appropriate steps to stay safe in the water. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, John Leech, CEO of Irish Water Safety shared their top tips for keeping safe in the water this summer.

Inexperienced swimmers should swim "within their depth"

"The 10 people who drowned, two were fishing and the others were swimmers, one was swimming alone which you should never do. The others were inexperienced or 'casual' swimmers," Mr. Leech said.

"What we mean by casual are people who just swim a few times a year as opposed to the thousands of people who swim in triathlons or open water swimming, who swim maybe 12 months of the year, and who are well used to safe practices. 

"The people who drowned swimming last month and early this month were all out of their depth. The main message is to swim within your depth, stay within your depth and swim parallel to the shore. Then if you do feel sick or unwell or dizzy, you can just drop your feet and wade back onto the bank."

Swim in designated swimming areas

"As much as possible, swim in designated bathing areas, like for instance Salthill where they can dive and jump off the boards where they're being looked after carefully by lifeguards that are trained up to the best international practice. 

"Then, thing don’t tend to go wrong. It's when they go off on their own unsupervised is when the trouble starts and unfortunately, they're out of their depth. 

"We're fearful that with this lovely weather that people will go off to these places that are not suitable for bathing at all, and we'll lose more people unnecessarily."

Wear a life jacket

"We want people going kayaking, sailing and angling particularly to wear a life jacket. It's really important to wear a life jacket no matter what you're doing. 

"Although it can be sometimes quite hot and sometimes people feel a little uncomfortable when it gets very hot especially in the midlands, but please leave your life jacket on.

"Your body will be very hot and susceptible to cold shock. Cold shock is the main contributing factor to drownings in our temperate climate."

Keep paddling pools supervised at all times

"We're very much against paddling pools because unfortunately parents have the best will in the world, may have a drink or a barbecue, and the phone rings or whatever and they get distracted.

"Young children drown in seconds, 20-40 seconds they'll be gone. Drowning is silent, so you won't hear them." 

Avoid inflatables 

"Don't use inflatable toys, they're absolutely lethal. I see them for sale in local supermarkets. The coast guard often rescue people out in Donegal bay, miles off shore, sitting in these inflatables because they've gotten blown away with off shore winds." 

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