Displaying items by tag: water safety
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD today (31 July) launched the newly updated Safety on the Water website.
This is a collaboration between the Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Ireland, Irish Sailing and BIM, and incorporates a new Safety on the Water logo.
Speaking at an event hosted by RNLI Galway to formally launch the new initiative today Minister Naughton said; “Water safety is not just a seasonal consideration - it is an all-year-round commitment and everybody has a role to play, be it as participants, as supervisors of children or simply as observers who can raise the alert”.
Over the last ten years, 1,200 people drowned in Ireland, an average of 10 every month with many drownings happening quickly, silently and in cooler water with hidden currents that impairs the ability to swim and float. These losses bring unspeakable hardship and sufferings on families and friends and they are preventable.
She added “I commend the excellent collaboration between the different organisations, Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Ireland, Irish Sailing who have done such wonderful work in promoting safety standards across the marine leisure industry and BIM in their work with the fishing communities”
Prevention is the overarching objective of the Safety on the Water Initiative. It aims to attract a higher level of interest from the general public to the site and to encourage a younger audience to engage with a more modern interactive medium. It provides a one-stop shop for all marine safety information in order to minimise accidents and to prevent the loss of life on Irish waters.
Minister Naughton referenced the advice of the Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland “that water-based inflatable devices present a clear risk to the public. The Coast Guard and the RNLI deal with a large number of inflatable related callouts. Please heed their advice and leave them at home. They are not suitable for use at the seaside or at any open waterways”
Minister Naughton also acknowledged the efforts that the Search and Rescue (SAR) organisations have made to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of SAR services during the Covid-19 crisis adding: “It is to your great credit that you have put measures in place to ensure the safety of your people throughout these challenging times. Coast Guard volunteers have in addition, assisted the HSE with provision of transport and other support. Water Safety Ireland has worked closely with the local authorities to ensure the availability of beach lifeguard services and RNLI have ensured the continued availability of their vital services”.
The safety on the water website provides information on, what to do in an emergency and how to plan water-based activities as well as links to the websites of the participating organisations. The site provides access to a series of water safety publications including the Code of practice – The Safe Operation Recreational Craft, publications on different water-based activities and a leaflet on the use of Personal Floatation Devices / Life jackets.
Water Safety Ireland is warning that the risk of drownings will be higher this weekend due to the higher tides that will be caused by a new moon on Sunday, June 21st. It is appealing to the public to wear a lifejacket when angling from shore, to stay away from the water’s edge when walking and to swim at lifeguarded waterways.
As the easing of Covid-19 related restrictions allows people to travel to waterways within their own county, Water Safety Ireland is pointing to the fact that the drowning risks that were there before Covid-19 remain a threat at all waterways, particularly in the days surrounding a new moon phase.
“An average of ten drownings occur in Ireland every month and eight out of ten drownings occur within a victim’s own county, so although people will welcome the fact that they can now travel to waterways within their own county, it is important to reduce the risks by wearing a lifejacket when angling from shore, to stay away from the water’s edge when walking the shoreline and to be aware of additional hazards when swimming during the days of a new moon”, commented Roger Sweeney of Water Safety Ireland.
“It is particularly relevant this weekend because of a new moon on Sunday, June 21st. A new moon makes the coastline more precarious due to a resulting spring tide. Sea swimmers should be mindful of rip currents, which are especially strong during a new moon. These currents can be difficult to spot and they can quickly weaken even the strongest swimmers and take them away from shore. Survival time is greatly reduced due to the cooler water temperatures that have not yet warmed up sufficiently for extended swims,” said Sweeney. “Never swim against a rip current. Instead, swim parallel to shore to escape the narrow current and then swim back to shore at an angle. Your safest bet is to swim at a Lifeguarded waterway as they are trained to spot these currents.”
“Stranding will also be a risk for many walkers as lower tides will expose even greater areas of the coastline. We urge parents to provide constant uninterrupted supervision of their children near water. Last year Lifeguards found and reunited 289 lost children with their loved ones, rescued 260 people from drowning and provided first aid more than 3,000 times nationwide.”
“There is a public perception that the risk of drowning is primarily related to offshore activities, yet six out of ten drownings occur inland at rivers and lakes.
Their joint appeal calls on parents and guardians never to allow inflatable toys to be used at rivers, lakes or beaches as the devices are vulnerable to the slightest breeze or current and can take a child away from shore and into danger. Equally the temporary loss of such a device could attract children or adults to try and retrieve them from the water and thereby get into a life-threatening situation.
Good weather has already tempted people into using inflatable toys which has quickly led them into danger and the need for our rescue services to respond.
Commenting on their use, Gerard O’Flynn of the Irish Coast Guard pointed to the fact that SAR resources including Coast Guard helicopters, RNLI lifeboats, Coast Guard units and community rescue boat services are no strangers to such rescues, “Our hearts go out the family that recently suffered such a tragic loss and we also mindful of a number of very near misses whereby children were swept out to sea and were rescued following a full scale Search and Rescue operation
Lifeguards trained by Water Safety Ireland have also seen an increase in the use of inflatable toys such as air mattresses, boats and inflatable rings, however, as Roger Sweeney of Water Safety Ireland points out, they are not suitable for use as recreational craft and can be lethal in open water.
“Drownings typically occur when a person overestimates their ability and underestimates the risk”, he said , “The risk that an inflatable toy can take a person out of their depth and out of their comfort zone is very high due to Ireland’s changeable offshore winds and the range of our tides. This is further compounded if the toy deflates and the person tries to swim or paddle a partly deflated toy to safety. Cooler water can quickly cool the muscles needed for swimming and hidden currents can make this swim very difficult and sometimes impossible. These toys provide a false sense of security and should be avoided.
Both organisations have thanked the public for their ongoing support and cooperation with water safety messages and called on everybody to redouble their efforts during Phase 2 of the roadmap for Ireland's easing of the COVID-19 restrictions to ensure that basic safety precautions are observed when recreating on or near the water.
- Inflatable toys are not safe for persons to float upon in open water
- Never be tempted to swim out after a floating toy
- Supervise children closely to ensure that they never use inflatable toys in open water
As the risk of drowning increases around warm weather bank holiday weekends, Water Safety Ireland is appealing to the public to adhere to the following guidelines during this phase of Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society.
- If you really must visit a waterway, only do so within your 5km limit. This may result in you visiting waterways that are unfamiliar to you, therefore encourage friends and family to stay away from edges.
- If you plan on swimming, the waterway within your 5km limit may not be lifeguarded. Ensure that it is a designated bathing area that is known locally to be traditionally safe and that it has ringbuoys present. Practice social distancing when in, on or near the water.
- If you do have a Lifeguarded waterway nearby, swim between the red and yellow flags so that you are within the Lifeguard’s patrol zone. A red flag means that a Lifeguard has decided that it is unsafe to swim. If there is no flag, it means that there is no lifeguard on duty.
- Lifeguards are operating on weekends in June and fulltime in July and August. There is a list of lifeguarded waterways on www.watersafety.ie but check with your local authority in case of changes to beach opening times.
- Warm air temperature does not mean that the water is warm. It is still too cold for extended swims and doing so places you at risk of hypothermia. Wear a wetsuit.
- Swim with a friend or with family, in case emergency services need to be called.
- Swim and Go – enjoy your swim but leave the area soon afterwards so that others may enjoy the water while complying with the need to social distance. If a beach is busy, wait until you can practise social distancing or take a walk or go to another safe beach nearby. Do not be tempted to swim in areas that you cannot confirm to be safe. There may be dangerous currents and hidden depths that may take you out of your comfort zone.
- Do not overestimate your ability or underestimate the risks. The same dangers that were present before Covid-19 are still present so please swim within your depth and stay within your depth.
- Supervise children closely.
- Always wear a lifejacket when on or near water and when angling from shore. Ensure that it is properly maintained and has a correctly fitted crotch strap.
- Those going afloat should carry a portable Marine VHF and/or a personal locator beacon and walkers should carry a mobile phone.
- In an emergency call 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.
The Government has been warned of the risks of an increase in drownings in the next few weeks during an easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Water Safety Ireland chief executive John Leech has expressed concern about the risks if weather is good before lifeguards are in place on beaches, and when water temperatures are still relatively low.
There is also some concern among commercial providers of outdoor adventure activities about the timing of safe resumption.
“Cold-water shock is a serious risk for people who have not been swimming on the sea or inland since last summer, and who haven’t been able to access a swimming pool,” Mr Leech said, pointing out that almost two million people living within 5km of the coastline, and many others live close to rivers and lakes.
“The last thing we want is to restrict people, but we are going to have the greatest number on the water in our history over the next few weeks, as they cannot go abroad and many have lost their jobs,” he said.
The Government has sanctioned re-opening of “outdoor public amenities and tourism sites, such as car parks, beaches and mountain walks” as part of phase one from Monday.
The Irish Coast Guard has also lifted its advisory on staying off the water and thanked the public for its co-operation, but cautioning that “the current 2x5 rule, as in two-metre physical distance and five km travel distance” remains in place.
Marinas, sailing and kayaking clubs are re-opening under advice issued by national sport governing bodies including the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) and Canoeing Ireland in line with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Covid-19 guidelines.
Activities such as kayaking in groups of up to four are being advertised as and from Monday by several providers, including Inish Adventures in Moville, Co Donegal.
“We are restricting to groups of four, all equipment will be sanitised, there will be social distancing and we are staying within the two loughs of Swilly and Foyle,” Adrian Harkin of Inish Adventures said. “We have received approval from our local Irish Coast Guard and from Canoeing Ireland.”
Mr Harkin said that he had erected marquees and outdoor showers as part of his preparation.
“I’ve never had so many inquiries from people to buy kayaks, and to be honest I’d prefer to see them going out with qualified instructors rather than taking risks on their own,” he said.
Canoeing Ireland chief executive Moira Aston said it has published return to sport protocols for its members and clubs.
“While we don’t have a regulatory function in relation to the commercial sector, we sincerely hope that everyone behaves responsibly, observes all guidelines, legislation and safety protocols and allows for further easing of restrictions,” she said.
She said she was aware that commercial operators had drawn up their own procedures which appeared to be in line with HSE guidelines. Canoeing Ireland would “not endorse any individual or organisation operating outside of our protocols”, she stressed.
“Kayaking is in a great position to be out there, but we are dipping our toe in the water,” she said.
In Galway, harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan confirmed public slipways and the marina would re-open under the guidelines, with a medical disclaimer required for use of the crane in launching craft.
The Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI have called on the public to pay particular attention to their personal safety when engaging in any water-based or coastal activities over the Christmas and New Year period. The two organisations have also issued a joint thank you to their nationwide search and rescue teams for their work during the past twelve months and paid tribute to the men and women who keep our waters and coastal areas safe.
Christmas/New Year Swims:
Swimming in open water is very different to swimming in a pool. Unseen currents, cold water and waves make open water swimming more challenging. Even the strongest swimmers can tire quickly in the sea.
- Never swim alone. Always try and take part in an organised swim with safety cover nearby.
- Consider wearing a wetsuit and bright coloured hat for longer swims.
- Check weather and tide times before you set out.
- Always swim parallel to the shore and not straight out. Cold water and currents can tire you out quickly and make it harder to return to shore.
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol
- If you see some in trouble, or think they are in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard
For coastal walkers:
Stay Back – Stay High – Stay Dry; when engaged in coastal walks and avoid any unfamiliar routes and be mindful of changes caused by coastal erosion and the risk of trip, slips and falls.
Ensure that pets are kept under control in case they get into difficulty and cause owners to risk their own safety in attempting to rescue them.
For leisure boaters or small fishing boat operators:
- Remember to carry a suitable means to call for help such as mobile phone, vhf radio or Personal Locator beacon
- If engaged in any boating activities wear an appropriate personal flotation device – it could save a life.
- Before proceeding, tell someone ashore your plans and what time you expect to be back.
- Always check the weather and take heed of any warnings.
Irish Coast Guard Head of Operation, Gerard O’Flynn said, ‘As we move past the shortest day of the year, everybody looks forward to getting out and about. Please be safety conscious, plan your activity carefully and always advise friends and colleagues of your plans and intentions. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centres at Malin, Valentia and Dublin will be fully staffed over the Christmas period as will our day and night Helicopter Search and Rescue services.’ He reiterated his thanks to volunteer members of the RNLI and Coast Guard who will continue to be available to respond over the holiday period.
RNLI Lifesaving Manager Sean Dillon added, ‘This Christmas and New Year we will have over 1,500 lifeboat volunteers ready to drop everything if a call for help comes in. There are many people who are spending Christmas with loved ones this year thanks to the actions of RNLI and Coast Guard crews and for that we are grateful to the men and women who give their time to keep people safe on the water. However, we know that not everyone can be saved, and our lifeboat crews are as busy as ever. Following simple safety advice before you set out can prevent a tragedy and give you valuable time to wait for help, if it is needed.’
Water Safety Ireland has urged organising Charity swims on Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day or New Year’s Day to ensure that they provide comprehensive details of each event to the Irish Coast Guard and local Gardaí.
Each event should have a Safety Officer appointed, who will advise those concerned on safety and have the ultimate responsibility for making decisions in relation to the swim being on or off on the day.
If the seas are rough and weather deteriorates, they should defer the event to a more suitable day without question – if in doubt do not take a chance on running the event.
Many participants will not have swum since the summer and the temperature of the water has now dropped considerably. It is a fallacy that alcohol will keep you warm when entering the water; in fact it has the reverse effect and could kill you. No alcohol should be taken before or after the swim.
Cold water can cause cold shock and hypothermia in minutes, because the temperature of the water at this time of year will be below 6° Celsius in Fresh Water and 11° Celsius in Seawater.
Ensure that you have safe access and egress with appropriate shallow shelving beaches, steps, slipway or ladders as appropriate. Elderly people should be mindful that steps leading into the water might be dangerous due to the increased growth of algae in wintertime. Organisers must ensure that they have had the access and egress cleaned in advance of the swim to avoid slips and falls.
Fancy dress outfits can seriously impair your ability to float – please do not wear when swimming.
Swimmers’ remaining in the water for extended periods in a gesture of bravado is not acceptable and leads to hypothermia. Our message is “Get In, Get Out and Warm Up”.
Furthermore, thousands of people are at risk when walking by rivers, lakes and shorelines. Others are lulled into a false sense of security when visiting relatives living close to water hazards such as slurry pits, ponds, exposed drains and canals.
Charity Swim guidelines:
- People organising these swims on Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day or New Year’s Day should ensure that they provide comprehensive details of each event to the Irish Coast Guard and local Gardaí.
- Each event should have a Safety Officer appointed, who will advise those concerned on safety and have the ultimate responsibility for making decisions in relation to the swim being on or off on the day.
- If the seas are rough and weather deteriorates, they should defer the event to a more suitable day without question – if in doubt do not take a chance on running the event.
- Many participants will not have swum since the summer and the temperature of the water has now dropped considerably. It is a fallacy that alcohol will keep you warm when entering the water; in fact it has the reverse effect and could kill you. No alcohol should be taken before or after the swim.
- Cold water can cause cold shock and hypothermia in minutes, because the temperature of the water at this time of year will be below 6° Celsius in Fresh Water and 11° Celsius in Seawater.
- Ensure that you have safe access and egress with appropriate shallow shelving beaches, steps, slipway or ladders as appropriate. Elderly people should be mindful that steps leading into the water might be dangerous due to the increased growth of algae in wintertime. Organisers must ensure that they have had the access and egress cleaned in advance of the swim to avoid slips and falls.
- Fancy dress outfits can seriously impair your ability to float – please do not wear when swimming.
- Swimmers’ remaining in the water for extended periods in a gesture of bravado is not acceptable and leads to hypothermia. Our message is “Get In, Get Out and Warm Up”.
I have no hesitation in saying that I detest those who vandalise public lifebuoys. Prosecuting and convicting such people, because their actions endanger life is, without question, absolutely necessary, but new legislation to make it easier for Gardai to do so and which would provide for a five-year jail sentence for those convicted has been held up in the Dáil for two years.
It is hard to understand why.
"Harbour Authorities spend €50,000 a year to replace an estimated 1,500 that are stolen or vandalised"
This equipment is a major part of the National Drowning Prevention Strategy. Local and Harbour Authorities provide ring buoys in yellow boxes but are having to spend €50,000 a year to replace an estimated 1,500 that are stolen or vandalised. Dublin City Council had to replace 500 last year at a cost of €20,000.
Cities, towns and urban areas are generally the locations where vandalism and theft are worst
Water Safety Ireland is working with Dublin Smart Docklands on a technological solution for the problem, according to the Chief Executive of Water Safety, John Leech.
• He discussed the problem on the Podcast below
Inland Fisheries Ireland has acknowledged members of Fisheries Officers Stephen Kiely, Sean Cremin and Tom O’Riordan for their brave and combined valiant efforts in saving a life when they came across a person in difficulty during a routine fisheries patrol operation. The Fisheries Officers from Cork won SEIKO Just in Time Rescue Awards at this week's Water Safety Awards in Dublin, as reported previously by Afloat.
Sean assisted Stephen with the rescue by contacting the emergency services and directing them to the incident and Tom assisted Stephen by giving first aid and CPR instructions over the phone. Stephen has Swift-Water training, which helped him to assess the situation. These staff members conducted themselves with a sense of civic duty and their actions on the day saved of a life.
The awards ceremony took place in O’Reilly Hall, University College Dublin on Tuesday the 26th of November.
The 22°C warm weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend increases the risk of drownings as warmer air temperatures can tempt people to go swimming in waters that are still cold (10°C coastal, 8°C inland) says Water Safety Ireland. Survival time is greatly reduced for someone immersed in cold water which drains body heat much faster than cold air.
The dangers of cold water immersion
When cold water makes contact with your skin, the cold shock response causes an immediate loss of breathing control, possible dizziness and panic. This dramatically increases the risk of sudden drowning even if the water is calm and you know how to swim.
For those who survive this but are unable to get out of the water, progressive body cooling leads to hypothermia and muscle cooling, making swimming more difficult or impossible. Children cool even faster than adults because they are smaller and have less fat.
What to do if you fall into cold water
Avoid swimming, stay calm and relax. Float or tread water and if possible get as much of your body out of the water because you will always cool faster in water than in air.
Wearing a lifejacket with a crotch strap will enable you to lessen heat escape by keeping your legs together and elbows by your side.
The dangers of a full moon on Good Friday 19th April
A full moon on Good Friday will cause spring tides. Strong rip currents will create a higher risk than usual for swimmers. The tidal streams will run very strong, posing a risk to those boating, angling, yachting, canoeing and any other water-related activities. Stranding will also be a risk for many walkers as the lower tide will expose even greater areas of the coastline. Parents should be particularly alert to providing constant uninterrupted supervision as Lifeguards will not be on duty at local authority beaches over the Easter weekend.
Those going afloat should carry a portable Marine VHF and/or a personal locator beacon and walkers should carry a mobile phone to call 112 in an emergency.
If you have not used your lifejacket or buoyancy aid since last year then you will need to carry out the following checks.
Ensure CO2 Cartridges have not been punctured and are firmly secured
Ensure all zips, buckles, fasteners and webbing straps are functioning correctly
Check that fitted lights are operating correctly
Check that the valve or lifejacket is not leaking by inflating the lifejacket overnight or immersing it in water checking for air bubbles
Always use your crotch strap when fitting your lifejacket
Detailed information on PFD’s here
Discard any faulty lifejackets by destroying them