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Charity Swim Guidelines Issued by Water Safety Ireland

18th December 2019
A Charity swim in Galway Bay A Charity swim in Galway Bay

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”.
Published in Water Safety
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