Wednesday 22 May 2019

Warning for parents over child drowning risk

Treacy Hogan

THE EQUIVALENT of a classroom of Irish children has drowned over the past decade, stark figures reveal.

Parents were warned today of the serious drowning risks ahead of the summer holidays.

The State’s Irish Water Safety agency said that many of the half a million primary school children starting their summer holiday still lack an awareness of how to stay safe from drowning when playing near or in water.

Forty children have drowned in Ireland over a ten year period, the agency said.

Launching National Water Safety Awareness Week  IWS urged parents and schoolteachers give children vital water safety information before the summer holidays start to help prevent further tragic drownings.

Parents should check if their local primary school has yet introduced Irish Water Safety's Primary Aquatics Water Safety "PAWS" programme which is a component of the primary school curriculum that teaches children how to stay safe around water.

IWS chief executive John Leech said: “Much of the programme is easily delivered as it is classroom based yet many primary schools have yet to deliver this training. “

“With three weeks to go before schools close, there is still time for teachers and parents to teach essential life skills to keep children safe from drowning. “

Mr Leech added: “ Children have drowned silently in a matter of seconds and in just a few inches of water. “

“Constant responsible parental supervision guarantees child safety yet tragic drownings occur every year when children manage to escape the watchful eye of guardians. “

He added: “ Schoolteachers are ideally placed to instil good safety habits in time for the summer months ahead.”

“When children are brought boating, it is essential that they wear a lifejacket and that the lifejacket has a crotch strap to avoid the possibility of the child slipping out through it. “

More online advice is available at to help keep children safe when boating, on farms, at inland waterways, on holidays, at swimming pools and other aquatic environments where tragic drownings have previously occurred.

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