Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Water Safety Ireland

Ahead of the first long weekend of 2024, celebrating St Brigid, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal asking people to stay safe when in, near or on the water.

The organisations are also reminding the public that water and air temperatures are relatively cold this time of the year and that hypothermia can set in quickly when sea swimming or coastal walking.

Water temperatures are still cold, meaning cold water shock and hypothermia are risks that can affect everyone. To avoid this during swims, people should acclimatise to the water slowly to get used to the cold and warm up quickly upon exiting the water.

The coastguard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland advise everyone intending to take part in any water-based activity or coastal walks to make sure they check in advance what they should do to keep safe.

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Never mix alcohol with water activities.
  • Always check the weather and tides.
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm: a VHF radio, personal locator beacon (PLB) or a fully charged mobile phone.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back.
  • Wear a suitable personal flotation device when boating or angling.
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off.

If you are swimming:

  • Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year, so consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm.
  • Acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility.
  • Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague.

Gerard O’Flynn, head of operations with the Irish Coast Guard says: “It is important to plan activities carefully this time of the year given that the weather conditions can be cold and changeable, for guidance on water safety planning, people should consult the Safety on the Water website at Gov.ie.”

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s deputy chief executive says: “Winter storms have damaged many waterside walking routes that were considered familiar and safe but may now be hazardous. Erosion underfoot is not always obvious until it is too late.

“Tell children in your care that to stay SAFE is to Stay Away From Edges. Use walkways that have public rescue equipment such as ringbuoys in bright yellow boxes. Report missing or vandalised ringbuoys at ringbuoys.ie, as a stolen ringbuoy could mean a stolen life.”

Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI regional water safety lead added: “If you find yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, your instinct will tell you to swim hard. But cold-water shock can make you gasp uncontrollably. Then you can breathe in water and drown. Instead, you should Float to Live.

“The best way to float is to tilt your head back with your ears submerged. Try to relax and breathe normally. You can gently move your hands to help you stay afloat if you need to. Spread your arms and legs out to improve stability — and it's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently. Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 112 or use VHF Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Water Safety

The Coast Guard, Water Safety Ireland and the RNLI have issued a joint appeal for the festive season, urging people to be mindful of the potential risks with their chosen activity and attend to their personal safety in planning and participating in any water based or coastal activities.

The increase in popularity of festive dips and open water swimming will see a lot of people taking to the water over the next few weeks. Many people will also avail of the opportunity to participate in coastal walks and hikes. The three maritime organisations are asking people to check that they have the right information to safely enjoy these activities and that they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

For those taking part in winter dips and swims the advice is:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Ensure that somebody ashore is monitoring your activity.
  • Acclimatise slowly.
  • Stay within your depth.
  • Always be seen.
  • Organisers of Christmas day or New year swims are advised to have suitably trained personnel in attendance and to appoint a Safety Officer.

Water-based activities at this or any time of year are not limited to swimming as the popularity of kayaking, canoeing, boating, and paddle-boarding remains high. The safety advice for these activities includes:

  • Always have a means for calling for help and make sure you can access it when you are out on the water.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return.
  • Wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid.
  • Always check the weather forecast and sea conditions before you set off.
  • If you're exploring somewhere new, seek knowledge from experienced practitioners in the area.

Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO Roger Sweeney said “A full moon during Christmas week (Dec 27th) will heighten the risks for walkers and swimmers as the resulting higher high tides will make our coastline more precarious. Stay away from the water’s edge on family walks and swimmers should watch out for stronger rip currents. Stranding will also be a risk for many walkers as the lower low tides caused by the full moon will expose even greater areas of the coastline. Children are often tempted to explore these sandbanks but risk being surrounded by an incoming tide. Parents and guardians should provide constant undistracted adult supervision of their children at all times.”

RNLI Water Safety Lead Linda Gene Byrne added “This time of year sees a huge increase in people doing seasonal swims and dips, particularly for charity. We would urge people when they decide to take to the water, to make time to ensure they are doing it safely and with the correct knowledge and equipment. That time taken could save a life or another person’s life. If you need to call for help, everything that you have done to keep afloat could make all the difference.”

Coast Guard Operations manager Gerard O’Flynn commented “Please plan your activity, whether it be on the water or along the coast and only swim or walk in areas with which you are familiar. Be mindful that less busy walkways may have suffered erosion since the summertime. Always carry a means of communication, such as VHF radio or a personal locator beacon especially if going afloat. PLBs attached to a lifejacket are proven to be lifesavers”.

The Coast Guard, Water Safety Ireland and RNLI would also like to thank all the volunteers and staff of the search and rescue organisations, who keep people safe on the water all year round and whose actions have saved many lives and wish them and their families a SAFE, happy Christmas and a peaceful new year.

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 112 or 999 and ask for the Coast Guard

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal as people are expected to enjoy the water this June Bank Holiday weekend.

Even in good weather, water temperatures remain cold, and the organisations have advised that those taking part in any water-based activity should make sure they have the proper equipment and know how to do it safely.

They advise to always carry a means of calling for help and to keep it within reach at all times. When kayaking or paddleboarding close to shore, conditions can turn quickly and wearing a buoyancy aid or lifejacket can make the critical difference. If you unexpectedly find yourself in the water and are wearing a lifejacket, you have given yourself vital time to be brought to safety.

While the good weather is set to continue, always check the forecast, tide times and sea conditions before setting off. Get regular updates if planning to be out for any length of time. And be prepared to change your plans or cancel the trip if the forecast is unfavourable.

For those swimming, remember to acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swim cap and consider a tow float to increase visibility. Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague. Swim in areas that are lifeguarded or are known locally to be safe.

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard operations manager said: “We appeal to everybody to plan for and attend to their personal safety. We again are warning on the dangers of using inflatable toys such as lilos on or near the water, be it seaside, lake, or river. Please do not bring such items with you.

“We express our thanks to all members of the emergency services who will be on duty over the weekend, in particular volunteer members of the coastguard, RNLI, community inshore rescue boats and mountain rescue teams. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.”

RNLI water safety lead Linda-Gene Byrne added: “The fine weather and brighter evenings will encourage more people onto the water and it’s great to see people out and about and enjoying it.

“If you fall into the water unexpectedly, remember to Float to Live — tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat. It’s okay if your legs sink, we all float differently. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.

“Taking a few minutes to check you have taken all the necessary equipment and advice for your activity and knowing what to do in an emergency will give peace of mind and help prevent accidents.”

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s deputy chief executive said: “This weekend, please remember that although air temperatures have risen, our waterways are still too cold for extended swims. A full moon on Saturday will make the coastline more precarious and rip currents will be stronger. Swim within your depth at the lifeguarded waterways listed at www.watersafety.ie/lifeguards/.

“A full moon also creates lower low tides that will expose even greater areas of the coastline which often tempts walkers to explore sandbanks. Be aware of being trapped by incoming tides, carry a fully charged mobile phone, and please provide constant uninterrupted adult supervision for any children in your care.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or you think that they are in trouble, dial 112 or use marine VHF radio Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have also expressed their condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in recent jet ski incidents on Carlingford Lough last week and most recently on Lough Derg in Co Clare.

Published in Water Safety

As the May Bank Holiday approaches, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland are issuing a joint water safety appeal asking people to take precautions to ensure their safety whether in, near or on the water, both at the coast and inland.

As the weather improves, more people will participate in coastal and water-based activities. The three organisations say that while these activities are enjoyable, they should be properly planned.

With alcohol being a contributory factor in around one third of drownings in Ireland, they are also appealing to the public to stay away from waterways if alcohol has been consumed.

It is important to be summer ready and ensure that boats and other water vessels, including kayaks and canoes, are checked after the winter to ensure that everything is in good working order and that engines have been serviced, with all equipment — particularly lifejackets — in good condition.

If out on a boat, or other water vessel, wear a lifejacket and carry a reliable means of communication: a VHF radio and ideally a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with a mobile phone as back-up. Ensure that you tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Micheál O’Toole from the Irish Coast Guard is reminding everyone of the need to check the weather and tides before heading out on the water or visiting the coast.

“We would advise people that the water is still cold at this time of the year, and cold-water shock can affect everyone,” he said. “We recommend exercising caution if entering the water for the first time this year, to wear brightly coloured swimming caps and use tow floats to improve visibility.

“Never ever swim alone and always make sure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague. Things can go very badly wrong in a very short time, so we all need to be aware of potential dangers and be well prepared before engaging in water-based activities. ‘

“The Be Summer Ready website at www.gov.ie/summerready provides good advice about water safety and we would urge all those involved in water activities to take some time to read the material available on the site before venturing out on the water.”

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s deputy CEO said: “Swimmers should be aware of rip currents which are a leading hazard at our beaches. They are often difficult to spot and can quickly weaken even the strongest swimmers and take them away from shore.

“Never swim against a rip current. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you escape the narrow current and then swim back to shore at an angle. Learn more at www.watersafety.ie/rip-currents.”

Killian O’Kelly, RNLI water safety education manager added: “If you’re going out on the water using a stand-up paddleboard, sit on top kayak, or personal watercraft, it is important to consider the direction of the wind. Offshore winds, ie winds blowing out to sea, are not suitable for these activities as they can push you further out to sea.

“Plan your route considering sheltered locations, wear a personal flotation device and have a suitable means of contact on your person that is easily accessible in any emergency.

“If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 112 or use VHF Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in Water Safety

Ahead of St Patrick’s Day festivities around Ireland, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal, asking people to stay safe when in, near or on the water.

The organisations are also urging the public to stay away from waterways if consuming alcohol. There are an average of nine drownings in Ireland every month and alcohol is a contributory factor in one third.

A lifejacket that has a correctly fitting crotch strap should always be worn on water and when angling from shore. If engaging in any boating activity it is essential to have a means of communication such as VHF radio or personal locator beacon with a mobile phone as a backup.

Water temperatures are still cold, meaning cold water shock and hypothermia are risks that can affect everyone. To avoid this while swimming, people should acclimatise to the water slowly to get used to the cold and warm up quickly upon exiting the water.

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland advise everyone intending to take part in any water-based activity or coastal walks to make sure they check in advance what they should do to keep safe.

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Never mix alcohol with water activities
  • Always check the weather and tides
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm (VHF radio or personal locator beacon, with a fully charged mobile phone as backup)
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Wear a suitable personal flotation device when boating or angling
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off

If you are swimming:

  • Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year; consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm
  • Acclimatise slowly
  • Wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility
  • Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague

Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheal O’Toole says: “St Patrick’s weekend is a traditional start to the holiday season and with extended daylight people will be keen to get out and about. Always carry a means of communication. If engaging in coastal walks, only use routes with which you are familiar or routes that are well marked and in regular use. Be attentive to erosion or changes that may have occurred over the winter period.“”

RNLI head of region Anna Classon adds: “As the evenings get longer, the water temperature is at its coldest at this time of year. Cold water shock is still a risk and we ask people to take care when entering and exiting the water. Acclimatise slowly and never swim alone.”

Water Safety Ireland’s deputy chief executive Roger Sweeney cautions that people should stay away from water if consuming alcohol.

“At this time of year many people will enjoy family trips to waterways nationwide. However, it is important people remember to supervise children closely and not to drink alcohol when supervising children near water,” he says. “Alcohol is a contributory factor in over 30% of drowning incidents and an individual’s judgement and reaction times can be significantly impaired.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 999 or 112 or use VHF Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Water Safety

Fifteen lives were saved from drowning by rescuers who received recognition at Water Safety Ireland’s National Annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, 6th December, at 7 pm.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, acknowledged recipients of the ‘Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award’ and other awards in appreciation for saving fifteen lives.

“Tonight, four women and 14 men are being recognised for doing something absolutely remarkable – that’s saving a life,” Minister Humphreys said.

“You’re being recognised for your determination. For your strength. For looking out for others. And for your extraordinary displays of courage.

“I am deeply honoured to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients”, she added.

Among the other recipients to receive awards are 30 volunteers who will be presented with Long-Service Volunteer Awards, recognising a combined total of 545 years of personal service teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide.

Minister Humphreys continued: “Also tonight, I want to say to the people who coach and train people in swimming and lifesaving all over the country: you too are saving lives by enabling others to do so.

“Without the coaches, the trainers and the teachers, we would not have the large volume of lifesavers around our country that we can be so proud of.”

Water Safety Ireland CEO Joanne Walsh stated: “I would ask that we all remain aware of the dangers of drowning”.

“Drownings can happen quickly and silently but with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes everyone can avoid the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety. Start a water safety conversation with your family, friends and colleagues and encourage them to read Water Safety Ireland’s guidelines at www.watersafety.ie so they can enjoy Ireland’s waterways safely.”

The Rescue Appreciation Award and Seiko Just in Time Award, presented to those who helped save someone at risk of drowning.


1. Garda Sarah Lynam – Dublin

Last August, Garda Sarah Lynam, a former competitive swimmer, became alerted to the fact that a person was in distress in the water at Bachelor’s Quay. She ran from the GPO on O’Connell Street, removed her stab vest and utility belt and swam to the casualty. Once out of the water, she noticed he was not responsive, so she began CPR and he made a full recovery.

2. Francis Doherty and Maureen Devenney – Donegal 

Last May, Maureen Devenney and her sister got pulled out to sea by a strong current. Maureen encouraged her sister to kick her legs and turn over onto her back while Maureen swam to the shore where she got help from Francis who swam out with a ringbuoy and started for shore. Meanwhile, Maureen had organised a chain of six people to wade out chest deep and bring both to safety.

3. John Timlin – Kerry

Last August 2022, John had just finished a surf lesson at Fermoyle strand, Castlegregory, in Kerry. Suddenly he saw swimmers in difficulty, caught in a rip current. He quickly grabbed a surfboard and paddled out. It took some time to get through the high waves. Eventually, he spotted a motionless girl, weak and semi-conscious, pulled her up onto the board and began a challenging paddle to shore through dangerous conditions. He placed her into the recovery position and after coughing up a lot of water, was kept warm with blankets from his van until emergency services arrived. Thankfully, she made a full recovery.

4. Sarah Cooke – Offaly

Last July, Sarah was teaching a water safety class at Banagher pool in Offaly. A young man at the other end of the pool got into difficulty so she grabbed a ringbuoy, instructed her class to vacate the pool and brought him to safety.

5. Sergeant Brendan Byrne and Garda Ronan Allen – Dublin

In August 2019, Gardai Brendan Byrne and Ronan Allen responded to a 999 call that a man was in the river Liffey. When they arrived, two men were in difficulty. Garda Allen entered the water and reached them with a ringbuoy. Sergeant Byrne pulled the rope towards a ladder where Dublin Fire Brigade soon arrived at the scene and helped to take all three people out of the water to safety.

6. David Caulfield, Dylan Putthaaree and Glen Wightman – Wexford 

In August 2021, David Caulfield was driving along the quays by the river Barrow in New Ross, Co Wexford. He saw a man in the water and immediately jumped in and pulled him towards the riverbank where a passing boat spotted them and pulled them both to safety.

7. Paul Sweeney and Garda Mark O'Sullivan - Donegal 

In December 2021, Paul Sweeney saw a young man was in difficulty at Rathmullen pier, Donegal. He entered the water and managed to reach the young man. Garda Mark O Sullivan arrived, grabbed a ringbuoy and entered the water. Both men kept the casualty afloat until emergency services arrived. The hypothermic young man was brought to hospital where he made a full recovery.

8. Jonathan Monroe – Galway

Last July, Jonathan was on his way to work when he saw a person in distress in the Eglinton canal in Galway city. Gary entered the water, reached the man and pulled him to safety. He stayed with the casualty until emergency services arrived. The casualty made a full recovery.

9. Mikey O'Siochrú – Dublin

Last August, Mikey had just come off duty as a lifeguard in Sandycove, when he was alerted to a woman in distress in the water. A seal was attacking the woman. He entered the water with a flotation device and upon reaching her, saw that she was injured. Mikey calmed the situation and brought her safely to shore where she received medical assistance for her wounds and made a full recovery.

10. Saoirse Maloney – Waterford 

Last July Saoirse was alerted that a woman was at risk of drowning in a cove in Ardmore. Saoirse swam to her rescue and brought her to safety. The woman was very disorientated but Saoirse continued to reassure her.

11. Patrick Gordon – Clare

Last July, Patrick was out surfing in strong winds with a friend when they heard a swimmer shouting for help after getting pulled from shore by a rip current. He immediately paddled towards the swimmer and told his friend to make for shore to get help. Patrick took his friend’s board, reached the exhausted swimmer, and got him to hold onto the board until he regained his breath and was able to make it safely back to shore.

12. Josh Marley – Donegal 

In August 2021, Josh became alerted to a person in distress in the water at Lifford bridge, Donegal. He immediately entered the river and managed to reach the woman and bring her to the safety of the riverbank where the emergency services took over.

13. Miley Doran – Carlow

In May 2021, Miley discovered two people, a mother and daughter, in difficulty in the River Barrow. Miley immediately jumped into the water and managed to bring the young girl to safety, before entering the water once more to rescue her mother. An incredible act of courage.

Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards are presented in recognition of a voluntary commitment to promoting a public awareness of water safety and rescue. Water Safety Ireland extends a sincere debt of gratitude to the following WSI volunteers.

10 Years of Service

Gerry Bruton, Offaly
James Murray, Offaly
Pamela McGrath, Clare
Yvonne Byrne, Kildare
Catherine Poole, Kildare
Billy Cantillon, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Stephen Ryan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

15 Years of Service

Brendan Devlin, Louth
Bryan Corcoran, Kildare
Susan Corcoran, Kildare
Brenda Maye, Kildare
Patrick Maye, Kildare
Sam Murray, Kildare
Ian Cunningham, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Joe Morgan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Tom Cusack, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Tony Slattery, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Valerie Stundon. Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

20 Years of Service

Ciara O Sullivan, Limerick
Jonathan Broderick, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Kieran Goodisson, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Peter Hogan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
David Finn, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Diarmuid Moriarty, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Ken Moore, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

30 Years of Service

May Coyle, Louth
Mal Sherlock, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Trevor Sheehan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

40 Years of Service

Aisling Cushen, Dublin
Jimmy Reilly, Dublin

Published in Water Safety
Tagged under

Water Safety Ireland and Fáilte Ireland were not consulted in advance of controversial draft bye-laws banning all watersports except for swimming off 24 Connemara beaches.

The new bye-laws proposed by Galway County Council have been widely criticised by watersports enthusiasts, including swimmers who point out that safety craft will even be breaking the law if the regulations are passed.

Water Safety Ireland (WSI), the State’s agency for training lifeguards, has offered to conduct risk assessments on all beaches in question.

Roger Sweeney of WSI said these risk assessments would “ensure that each of those locations is safe for all users, swimmers and others alike”.

Fáilte Ireland has expressed concern about the impact on a growing market for outdoor water-based activities, particularly along the Wild Atlantic Way.

It has said that “zoning” for different beach activities should be considered as an alternative.

The tourism body has also described some of the proposed wording as “ambiguous”.

Galway sailor and yacht chandler Pierce Purcell said that lack of access was the single biggest obstacle to the development of water sportGalway sailor and yacht chandler Pierce Purcell has said that lack of access was the single biggest obstacle to the development of water sport

The draft bye-laws state that “no person shall windsurf on sailboards or kite-surf on kiteboards or surf on a surfboard or use a canoe, kayak, dinghy, stand-up paddle board or water bike in close proximity to bathers” off any of the 24 named beaches.

The draft bye-laws also state that the council “ may at its discretion designate areas of any beach in and at which the use of surfboards and/or kiteboards and/or sailboards and/or canoes and kayaks and/or dinghies and/or stand-up paddle boards and/or water bikes is restricted or prohibited”.

Under the wording, the council may be empowered to issue on-the-spot fines of €75 euro to anyone in breach of conditions and, if found guilty in court, a fine of up to €1,904.60.

Earlier this month, Galway County Council director of services told a council meeting that there had been a “misinterpretation”, but this was challenged by Independent councillor Noel Thomas who said the wording was there in “black and white” and needed to be revised.

Watersport representative organisations have pointed out that consultation should have taken place before any draft legislation was published.

Blue Flag criteria stipulate that beaches must be accessible to all and that there must be management and zoning for different users to prevent conflicts and accidents.

Critics say that Galway County Council risks jeopardising Blue Flag status for the affected beaches if the bye-laws are passed without amendment.

Fáilte Ireland head of product development – activities Fiona Monaghan outlines the State agency’s “concerns” in a submission to Galway Council Council in which she proposes zoning to ensure safe areas for bathers.

She says that its research shows that “a growing number of both domestic and international visitors are engaging in outdoor water-based activities in recent years, and this is a trend that will continue to grow year upon year, and not just during the summer months”.

“It is well recognised that the pandemic has accelerated people’s appreciation and engagement with the outdoors, and we are fortunate that Galway has some of the most natural and unspoilt coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way,”she says, referring to six Blue Flag and six Green Coast awarded beaches in the county this year.

“Fáilte Ireland has made a significant investment in developing water-based activity tourism around Ireland in partnership with local authorities, with €19million allocated in April 2021 for the development of 20 world-class water sport facilities centres to support water sports activity providers and significantly enhance the visitor experience,” Monaghan says.

She says draft beach bye-laws should give “due regard” to watersport users and operators during the bathing season, and “greater clarity” is required in the wording on “prohibited acts” and on how both bathers and other beach users can access and enjoy the amenity.

“It is also important that the draft bye-laws recognise the requirement for small craft to provide support and safety to bathers at busy times and during open water swim events and tuition,” she says.

“For too long, there was very little appreciation of our coastline and pristine waters as a recreational amenity," she says, stating that it is "imperative that the draft beach bye-laws for Galway County support the use of our beaches and waters for recreation and tourism giving due regard to all users".

Published in Marine Planning

Dublin City Council, in partnership with Water Safety Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development, this week launched an innovative ‘Smart Ring Buoys’ project aimed at saving lives in Ireland’s waters.

The Smart Dublin initiative worked with technology partners Civic Integrated Solutions Ltd, mSEMICON Teoranta and ZiggyTec Ltd to develop the low-cost lifesaving technology, which will provide real-time alerts when life rings are stolen or tampered with.

Anti-social misuse of life buoys is an issue for councils across Ireland, and more than 600 sensors will now be installed in eight local authorities including Fingal County Council, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dublin City Council, Laois County Council, Meath County Council, Sligo County Council and Limerick City & County.

The Smart Ring Buoy technology works through low-cost sensors paired with a mobile, map-based platform with real-time monitoring. It will alert water safety officers when ring buoys are tampered with or go missing and ensure their timely replacement. This is an essential and lifesaving action as a stolen ring buoy could mean a stolen life.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys said: “In 2021 alone, we tragically lost 80 lives through drowning. Such incidents have devastating and long-lasting effects on families and communities.

“Safety tools like ring-buoys are in place to save lives and protect people when they are close to water. Sadly, the theft or vandalism of this life saving equipment is still commonplace in both our rural and urban communities.

“The initiative that I am launching today [Wednesday 26 October] in conjunction with Dublin City Council is both unique and important. With the support of funding from my department’s Digital Innovation Programme, we will roll out this sensor technology in 8 different local authorities.

“This project is a leading example of how the public sector is tacking community challenges with innovative approaches. I want to commend Dublin City Council and all the project partners and stakeholders involved.”

The project began back in 2018 as part of a workshop to identify challenges in Dublin’s Smart Docklands area. Members of the community highlighted that ring buoys were frequently being stolen or tampered with, with a delay to replacement devices being installed.

‘These smart ring buoys will detect when this essential public rescue equipment is interfered with or stolen’

At present, around 15 ring buoys go missing or are stolen every week from Dublin City Council alone costing over €20,000 per annum for replacement.

Dublin City Council says it realised that this was a problem not just in Dublin but across Ireland and set out to find a solution through its Smart Dublin innovation programme. Across Ireland there are approximately 5,000 life buoys installed.

The project has taken what’s described as a “unique” approach to procurement in an Irish context, led by Dublin City Council, where the Dublin local authorities have been able to pilot a number of innovative solutions initially and then purchase the best solutions as part of a wider framework with 23 local authorities.

In addition, the project was shortlisted for an Innovation leadership award from the European Innovation Council, recognising the efforts done by the public sector to promote and implement innovation procurement across Europe.

Speaking about the new scheme, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan said: “This is a great example of collaboration across the Irish local authorities and Water Safety Ireland through our Smart Dublin programme. It is also the first time we have used a procurement approach like this to pilot an innovative technology solution before we buy.

“We look forward to scaling this type of approach to accelerate the deployments of new innovations that can address city challenges.”

Roger Sweeney, acting CEO of Water Safety Ireland said: “Every year, ring buoys are used by the public to save lives from drowning however many ring buoys are regularly stolen or vandalised. A stolen ring buoy can mean a stolen life. Ring buoys play a critical role in drowning prevention but to do so they must always be available and in place.

“These smart ring buoys will detect when this essential public rescue equipment is interfered with or stolen. They will save on the time that is currently needed to monitor and replace them and they will provide this information 24 hours a day.

“The increased number of visitors to our waterways nationwide has placed a greater emphasis on the need for such innovative water safety solutions that can help prevent tragic drownings. Water Safety Ireland is delighted to be involved in this project which will help save lives.”

Published in Water Safety

With Met Éireann issuing an advisory for hot weather through the rest of the week and the weekend, the RNLI, Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland are urging people to plan for their personal safety when visiting the coast or when they are on or near the water.

Air temperatures are set to be in the mid to high 20s, with some parts breaking 30C today (Thursday 11 August).

All three organisations are reminding people about the dangers of cold water shock, which can seriously affect breathing and movement, and can occur in any water temperature below 15C.

In a joint statement, they said: “With the good weather and high temperatures forecast to last right through to the weekend, we want to remind everyone to attend to their personal safety.

“With so many people enjoying the water this summer, it’s important that we all know the risks. The sea can be unpredictable, and even with the temperatures soaring, the fact is that the water is still relatively cool compared to air temperatures.

“Just because an area looks safe for swimming it doesn’t mean that it is safe. Only swim in areas that are protected by lifeguards or in areas with which you are familiar. In the case of lifeguard -protected beaches, only swim between the red and yellow flags.”

RNLI water safety lead Kevin Rahill said: “Many people who get into danger each year never planned to enter the water — slips, trips and falls can also occur.

“The RNLI is urging people to Float to Live if they get into trouble in the water. This means leaning back and spreading your arms and legs to stay afloat, controlling your breathing, then calling for help or swimming to safety.

“In the event of any water or coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 or use marine VHF Radio Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.”

Roger Sweeney from Water Safety Ireland added: “Rip currents are difficult to spot but common on beaches and carry you out to sea quickly.

“If you do get caught in one, the advice is to not to exhaust yourself trying to swim against it. Rather swim parallel to the beach until free of the narrow current and then head for shore.”

Gerard O’Flynn from the Irish Coast Guard also noted: “Record numbers are also taking to the water on craft such as paddleboards and kayaks, many for the first time, so it is important to always remember to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid and to take a means of calling for help.”

Published in Water Safety

Ahead of the August Bank Holiday weekend, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Ireland and Met Éireann are appealing for people to take care when they are on or near the water.

With many people continuing to enjoy the summer holidays or planning a break this weekend, the organisations are asking people to be particularly mindful to check weather forecasts and tide times before venturing out and if planning on entering the sea to know how to spot and safely handle a rip current.

If planning other activities such as paddleboarding, the request is to always go prepared so the water can be enjoyed safely.

Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting in Met Éireann says: “While there will be some warm sunny spells, the weather will be mixed this weekend. For a detailed forecast for 10-days ahead for over 1,000 locations around Ireland including the beaches, lakes and mountains, go to met.ie.”

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Always check the weather and tide times.
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm such as a VHF radio or personal locator beacon (PLB) and a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch as back-up.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you are due back.
  • If going afloat, wear a lifejacket or suitable personal flotation device for your activity.
  • Never ever swim alone. Only swim in areas that are supervised by lifeguards or in areas with which you are familiar.
  • Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI water safety lead said: “This weekend will see spring tides so we would encourage anyone planning a walk or activity near the coast to check tide times before venturing out to avoid becoming cut off.

“The RNLI is also urging everyone to remember to ‘Float to Live’ if they do get into trouble in the water this weekend. To do this: Lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the coastguard.”

Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said: “We wish to thank the public for their cooperation and support and for the responsible approach displayed when participating in any water based or coastal activity.

“We would also advise people to avoid bringing inflatable toys to the beach, rivers or lake side as users can easily get swept away from the shore.”

Water Safety Ireland’s acting chief executive Roger Sweeney said: “Swimmers should watch out for rip currents which are one of the most dangerous natural hazards at Irish beaches.

“The strong channel of water running from a beach back to sea can be difficult to spot so the best way to avoid them is to swim at lifeguarded beaches between the red and yellow flags. If caught in one, don’t exhaust yourself trying to swim against it. Swim parallel to the beach until free of the narrow current and then head for shore.”

Published in Water Safety
Page 1 of 3