Water temperature is approaching its highest for the bathing season (sea water is between 14C and 16C and freshwater is between 16C and 18C) so people should encourage their friends and family to join them for an open water swim, as it benefits both physical and mental health.
But care must always be taken, too. In 2019, 105 people drowned in Ireland. And lifeguards administered first aid to 3,284 people last season, highlighting the need for personal responsibility. They also located 289 lost children and rescued 260 casualties from the water nationwide.
The public should be responsible when on or near water, have a healthy respect for the dangers and ensure that all activities are safe and within one’s ability. Novice and beginners must always swim within their depth — and stay within their depth.
Beware of rip currents on all surfing beaches or those with a steep gradient. These can quickly take a person away from shore which is helpful to the surfer but can cause tragedy for those who do not understand such currents.
Lifeguards are trained to spot these currents and keep people away from danger. Should you find yourself in one, then swim parallel to the shore until you leave it, then swim back ashore.
Stranding will also be a risk for many coastal walkers, therefore a mobile phone should be carried to call 112 in an emergency and ask for the coastguard.
Parents should provide constant uninterrupted supervision, as 30 children aged 14 and under drowned within the last 10 years. Never use inflatable toys in open water as they can quickly be swept out to sea by offshore winds and currents.
Alcohol should be avoided before or during any aquatic activity. Alcohol is a factor in an average of three of every 10 drownings.
Those going afloat should always wear a lifejacket and carry a portable Marine VHF and/or a personal locator beacon.