Swim within your depth, stay within your depth and never swim alone.
27th May 2019
Water Safety Ireland Advice
To date this year we have had 23 fatal drownings, which is five less than for the same time last year, so that is encouraging. What’s more we had no accidental drownings during the Easter Holiday or during the May Bank Holiday Weekend when we experienced fine weather and had spring tides as a result of the Full and New Moons. Normally these conditions tend to cause more drownings. We can eliminate these accidental fatal drownings by essential training for whatever discipline of aquatic activity that you are involved in. For the Leisure industry we recommend that you use this web portal to find the training that you require http://www.safetyzone.ie
From our research over three decades we can conclude that 62% of all fatal drownings occur at inland water sites. Rivers are by far the most hazardous and account for 37% of all fatal drownings. 79% of all fatal drownings are of males, we have also discovered that 79% of people drown close to their homes which could indicate familiarity with the drowning location.
During heat waves or prolonged spells of good weather we always see and increase in open water swimming at beaches, rivers and lakes. Sadly, we inevitably see an increase in drownings. The greatest contributing factor is the cold water and the effect it has on our bodies, referred to as the Cold Shock response http://www.iws.ie/emergency-situations/hypothermia-what-to-do.355.html. So it is crucial that we should swim within our depth an stay within our depth, then if you do get in to trouble then simply stand up and wade back ashore. Water Safety Ireland teaches children and adults to swim and learn lifesaving and survival skills, click here if you are interested in undergoing some training http://www.iws.ie/events.169.html
I was impressed recently, when I spotted a photo of The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. opening the new Harbour Administration building in Castletownbere wearing a lifejacket. In the past I have written to Ministers as a result of them attending various events on the water where they were not wearing lifejackets. It is important that we all wear lifejackets when we go afloat to sea or on inland waterways. We recommend self inflating lifejackets and personal locator beacons for all lone workers on or near the water. There have been some tragic accidents in the past where a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) in addition to the lifejacket would have saved the person. Remember you need to be able to float long enough for our Coast Guard to arrange your rescue, but you also need a means of communication with them and that is where the PLB comes in to help save your life.
Water Safety Ireland runs Water Safety Awareness courses for Government Departments, Agencies, Local Authorities, Universities and companies who employ people on or near the water. The course is run over a day. It is based in the Class room in the morning and then in the swimming pool in the afternoon. The feedback has been positive as virtually all candidates who completed it had never even used their self inflating lifejacket in the water. Details at http://www.iws.ie/_fileupload/courses/Water%20Safety%20At%20Work/IWS%20Syllabus%202017.pdf
Ireland is the envy of many nations as a result of the lifejacket wearing compliance it has achieved, it is one of the main contributing factors to the steady decline in fatal drownings on our Island Nation.
We receive considerable queries in relation to lifejackets and we have developed a practical information page on our website http://www.iws.ie/boating/personal-flotation-devices.327.html which is very helpful to new or novice members of the public who have taken to the water.
We have lost 11 anglers in the last five years so please always wear a lifejacket whether you are out on a boat, angling from a beach, rocks or a riverbank.
Anecdotally we see an increase in most aquatic activities this year but especially in canoeing and kayaking which is inexpensive and most people can put it on their roof racks and stow them in their back gardens when not in use. We recommend that these enthusiasts carry a Hand Held waterproof VHF and a Personal Locator Beacon. These are now relatively inexpensive and many of them take on some intrepid voyages around our coast and across our lakes. We have lost six people to kayaking in the last 5 years. Please remember that self inflating lifejackets are like parachutes, if the are not maintained annually, fitted correctly and checked regularly then they simply will not work and therefore fail to save your life.
So please enjoy your aquatic activities and always wear a lifejacket on or near the water and use your influence to further reduce the number of drownings on our island nation.
John F M Leech