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The Chief Executive of the State agency, Water Safety Ireland, has made an appeal to all fishermen to take a "risk-based approach" to safety throughout the year to reduce tragedies which coastal communities have endured.

John Leech says that the first quarter of the year "normally brings with it some of the worst fishing vessel tragedies of the year."

"I would like," he says, "to see all our fishermen use a risk-based approach throughout the year and that their families support them in their endeavours. This will help reduce these awful tragedies that our coastal communities have endured each year.

Formerly the Naval Officer who led that Service's Diving Unit and took part in many search-and-rescue operations, John Leech delivers a message about the need for "an enhanced maritime safety culture" on this week's Podcast.

As well as being CEO of the State agency responsible for promoting water safety he is also an experienced sailor, crewed aboard Ireland's round-the-world yacht, NCB Ireland and is one of the top Race Officers for sailing events.

His message, to fishermen, in particular, can also be applied to everyone working in the marine sector and to those who go on the water for leisure, sailing, motorboating, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, all the maritime sports.

The fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay that disappeared south of Hook HeadThe fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay that disappeared south of Hook Head

"This time last year we all learned of the tragic news that the fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay had disappeared approximately south of Hook Head.

"All around our coast we have sacrificed so many lives to the fishing industry with several memorials dotted around our coastline to remember these brave fishermen to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude for keeping our fishmongers supplied with fresh fish and for keeping our fish processors in business," he says,

Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Water Safety Ireland is advising parents to supervise their children over the next few days until the current spell of hard weather moves away.

The best advice is to stay off the ice, however, children will be tempted to play on the ice where it has frozen over on canals, ponds, lakes and flooded areas.

Playing on the frozen edges of a pond, lake or canal is perilous as ice can be quite thick in one area yet it can be much thinner close to that same area.

Previous hard spells of weather have ended in tragedy where young children have fallen through the ice and drowned. Water Safety Ireland is advising parents of young children to be aware of their whereabouts over the next few days to ensure they do not fall through the ice.

Ice-related drownings can occur when the rescuer gets into difficulty attempting to rescue another person or a dog. Whereas a dog will normally manage to scramble to safety unaided, regrettably, the owner may not. Know the dangers of ice.

Many factors affect ice thickness including:

  • type of water, location, the time of year, shade from the sun and other environmental factors such as:
  • Water depth and size of body of water.
  • Currents, tides and other moving water.
  • Chemicals including salt.
  • Fluctuations in water levels.
  • Logs, rocks and docks absorbing heat from the sun.
  • Changing air temperature.
  • Shock waves from vehicles travelling on the ice.
  • Ice Colour The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength.
  • Clear blue ice is the strongest.
  • White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice.
  • Opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice.
  • Grey ice is unsafe. The greyness indicates the presence of water.

Did you know ice thickness should be?

  • 15 cm for walking or skating alone
  • 20 cm for skating parties or games
  • 25 cm for snowmobiles

Ice Rescue

  • Never go out on ice alone and especially at night.
  • When you are with others on ice rescuing another person can be dangerous.
  • The safest way to perform a rescue is from the shore.
  • Use your Mobile phone to call for help at 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.
  • Give your precise location, the number of people in difficulty and any conspicuous building or landmark nearby to assist the helicopter locate you.
  • Check if you can reach the person using a ringbuoy and rope, long pole, items of clothing or a branch of a tree from shore – if so, lie down and extend the pole to the person.
  • Instruct the casualty to keep still to maintain their heat and energy.
  • If you go onto ice, wear a lifejacket and carry a long pole or a branch to test the ice in front of you. Bring something to reach or throw to the person (e.g., a ringbuoy, pole, weighted rope or tree branch).
  • When near the break, lie down to distribute your weight and slowly crawl toward the hole. Remaining low, extend or throw your emergency rescue device (ringbuoy, pole, rope or branch) to the person.
  • Instruct the person to kick while you pull them out.
  • Move the person to a safe position on shore or where you are sure the ice is thick. All casualties should be taken to hospital even if they appear to be unaffected by their ordeal as they will be suffering from hypothermia.

If you get into trouble on ice and you are by yourself

  • Call for help.
  • Resist the immediate urge to climb back out where you fell in.
  • The ice is weak in this area.
  • Use the air trapped in your clothing to get into a floating position on your stomach.
  • Reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down.
  • Kick your legs to push your torso on to the ice.
  • When you are back on the ice, crawl on your stomach or roll away from the open area with your arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your body weight.
  • Do not stand up!
  • Look for shore and make sure you are going in the right direction.
Published in Water Safety
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The RNLI and the Coast Guard are appealing to the public to exercise caution when participating in any activity on and near the water during the Christmas and New Year period and at all times to be mindful of the restrictions in place to deal with the COVID pandemic. Many traditional Christmas and New Year swims which ordinarily had safety measures in place have been cancelled. Accordingly, anybody planning such activity should check up to date guidance and ensure that they have made appropriate safety arrangements.

The second half of 2020 saw a significant increase in water-based incidents placing extra demands on Search and Rescue providers including Coast Guard and RNLI volunteer crews. Mindful of the increased levels of participation in open water swimming both organisations are highlighting the risks of suffering cold water shock, which is a very real danger for anyone entering water which is 15°C or below. Average sea temperature around Ireland at this time of year are just 6-10°C. This can pose a risk of hypothermia, even for the most experienced of open water swimmers.

The top safety tips from the Coast Guard and the RNLI for open water swimming are:

  • Always check the weather forecast and understand the local effects of wind, tides and currents. 
  • Never swim alone and if possible, have somebody ashore who is familiar with your plans and can observe your progress.
  • Only swim in sheltered areas with which you are familiar and swim parallel to the shore.
  • Stay within your depth – know your limits including how long to stay in the water
  • Ensure that you are visible from the shore. Wear a brightly coloured swim cap or use a tow float to increase your visibility in the water.
  • Wearing a wetsuit is advisable to help stay warm.
  • Acclimatise to cold water slowly to reduce the risk of cold-water shock.
  • Get warmed up afterwards. Wrap up well in extra layers of clothing
  • If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • Tell someone else where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

As the year draws to a close, thanks have been paid to the men and women involved in search and rescue for their incredible service throughout the year. Volunteers have been called out to help at all hours of the day and night and they have been on the frontline of saving lives and keeping people safe.

Irish Coast Guard, Head of Operations Gerard O’Flynn said: ‘We wish to say a special thank you to everybody involved in SAR for their commitment and service in these extraordinary times with a special thank you to the volunteer members of the rescue services.

He added: People love to get out and about over the Christmas and New Year period. For those who have an opportunity to go on coastal walks always remember to Stay Back Stay High Stay Dry – and this year please be especially mindful of Covid related restrictions. Open water swimming this time of the year is only for experienced participants and never ever swim alone.’

RNLI Water Safety Lead Kevin Rahill added: ‘RNLI and Coast Guard volunteers have played an enormous role this year in keeping people safe as they took to the water in greater numbers. We wish to thank everyone involved in search and rescue and their families and employers who support our volunteers.

‘No one goes into the water in the expectation of needing to be rescued but we are asking anyone considering going for a swim to understand the dangers and not take unnecessary risks so they can have a good time, safely. It is important to respect the water and there are a number of things you can do to help ensure you have an enjoyable and safe time such as not swimming alone, staying in your depth and knowing how to warm up properly afterwards, which sounds obvious but is crucial to avoid any delayed effects of the cold and hypothermia.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Fifty-one lives were saved from drowning by rescuers who will receive recognition at Water Safety Ireland’s National Annual Awards Ceremony, broadcast online on Tuesday 24th November at 7 pm.

The Minister for Rural & Community Development, Heather Humphreys will acknowledge recipients of the ‘Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award’ and other rescue awards being presented to 67 rescuers in appreciation for saving 51 lives in 32 incidents.

“It is an honour to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients”, commented Minister Humphreys. “Without their bravery, quick thinking and selflessness, the outcomes could have been very different. On average, ten people drown in Ireland every month and while one drowning is one too many, the figure would have been higher but for these courageous rescuers.”

“I would also like to commend the efforts of Water Safety Ireland volunteers. The Lifeguard service is also crucial to safety on our waterways and would not be possible without the teaching and assessment conducted by Water Safety Ireland Volunteers nationwide. This summer, Lifeguards rescued 468 people, administered first aid on 3,450 occasions and reunited with loved ones, 251 lost children found wandering unsupervised near water.”

Rescue Appreciation Award Recipients

Presented to those who came to the assistance of person(s) in difficulty in water and in danger of drowning.

Sam Rodden and Patrik Orals

Students Sam and Patrik were returning to school when they saw somebody in the river. They ran along the riverbank, throwing a ringbuoy as the current took him away but the person submerged and did not resurface so they got into the river and pulled the unconscious person out. The boys put him in the recovery position and got blankets to keep him warm. He regained consciousness just as the emergency services arrived and he made a full recovery.

Jack Nolan

Jack was returning to the harbour from a fishing trip. As he passed a lighthouse, he saw a woman in the water. He was wearing a lifejacket so he jumped in and saved her until emergency services arrived.

Niamh McMahon, Lynn McCarthy, Beth Darrer

Niamh was surfing when she saw four friends in danger of drowning. She paddled over and pulled one person onto her board while another held on tightly. Beth and Lynn were walking the shoreline and after getting people to call emergency services, they grabbed a ringbuoy and swam out to help Niamh. Exhausting for everyone but they all got back to shore safely.

Jamie Venner, Cillian Foster, Richard McSweeney, Kate Horgan and Harry Pritchard

These five teenagers were fishing in a Rigid Inflatable Boat when they saw a nine-year-old boy on an inflatable toy being swept out to sea by a strong current, along with the boy’s father who was swimming to save him. The boy made it back to shore but the father was left exhausted and clinging to a marker buoy in the strong current. Thankfully, the teenagers were in the right place at the right time to save him.

Conal Dolan

Conal certainly put his training as an Emergency Medical Technician to good use when he saw a woman in danger of drowning. Without hesitation, he got into the water and brought her safely to shore where he checked her vital signs and put her in the recovery position in an effort to drain excess water. She made a full recovery.

Nathan Holding, Cathal Keohane and Connell O Herlihy

A father and son were caught in a very strong rip current but thankfully the three boys were able to use their boards to help. The father had become exhausted fighting the current but after a time the boys broke free of the rip and got safely back to shore.

Gardai Adrian Corcoran, Mick O’Connell, Dave Coughlan

Adrian got into the high and fast-flowing river to save a woman in danger of drowning. Sergeant O’Connell soon arrived and got in to help Adrian bring the woman to the riverbank where Garda Coughlan also helped to pull the woman to safety.
Well done Adrian, Mick and David.

Gardai Niall Lennon, Mark Murphy & Sergeant Leo Kiernan

These three Gardai came to the rescue, not of a person, but a dog that had become entangled in a water buoy and was drowning. Luckily they were able to avail of a local fisherman’s lake boat to rescue the dog and get it back to it’s worried owner.
Well done Niall, Mark and Leo.

Garda Nigel Desmond

Nigel arrived at the scene to find a man semi-submerged in freezing cold water, holding onto a ringbuoy that had been thrown to him. Nigel jumped in straight away and kept the man’s head above water and with some help, managed to get close to the riverbank until Cork Fire Brigade’s Swift Water Rescue Team arrived.

Garda Fergal O’Connor

Fergal arrived to the riverbank to find that several people had attempted to save a drowning man by throwing ringbuoys but none of the ringbuoys reached him. Fergal immediately jumped in and used a ringbuoy to keep the man afloat while his Garda colleagues pulled them both back to the riverbank and out of the river.

Cathal O’Neill

Cathal’s local knowledge came in handy to find a woman who was brought nearly 200 metres away from where she was first spotted in the water. He called emergency services and got into the strong current and in poor visibility, managed to find her and bring her to the riverbank where first aid was performed successfully.

Gardai Karl Carroll and Evan Guilfoyle

Both Karl and Evan used a temporary ladder to access a pontoon where they managed to bring a man to safety from a strong current.
Well done Karl and Evan

Gardai Dean O’Sullivan and Darragh Khan

Dean and Darragh managed to avoid rocks as they swam a strong current to reach a drowning man and bring him to shore where Dean performed CPR.
Well done Dean and Darragh.

Gardai James Brennan, Breda Fahy, Tom Kelly, Aidan Hynes, Joyce O’Grady and Ken Warney

James used a rowboat to get to a drowning woman and hold onto her while Breda and Tom used another boat to assist. They pulled the woman into a boat and then Aiden, Joyce and ken threw them a rope and pulled them all safely back to safety.

John Boyle and – posthumously to Dan Boyle and Brian Friel

People out walking Mullaghmore noticed from a distance that two men in a boat had lost an oar on their wooden boat and were in extreme difficulty. Brian Friel and Dan Boyle, local residents at the time, along with John Boyle, launched a boat and lifted the causalities on board. They were shaken and hypothermic but thankfully made a full recovery.

Jane Friel

Jane ran to a mother’s cries for help and saved FOUR people from drowning in a strong rip current. She ran with a ringbuoy into the water and after rescuing the nine year old girl, went back out to reassure two more girls and their father, encouraging them to help by kicking their legs as she helped them to shore and out of the rip current.

Gardai Pearse Murphy & Gary O’Donohoe

Pearse and Gary used a ringbuoy to pull a heavily bleeding man to shore where they administered first aid and got him to hospital where he made a full recovery.

Garda John O’Brien and Reserve Garda Brian Murray

John arrived to a river that was heavily swollen due to heavy rainfall and could see a woman face down in the middle of the waterway. He swam with a ringbuoy while his colleague Brian held the rope however the rope was not long enough but nonetheless John continued swimming with the ringbuoy until he reached the drowning woman. He pulled the woman towards him and used the ringbuoy to help him swim 20 metres back to shore where both Gardai administered CPR.

Callum Keane

Callum was out for a walk when he saw two boys shouting for help. They got into difficulty in the rushes growing in the river. He swam to the first boy and brought him safely through the rushes to the riverbank. He then went back into the river to rescue the second boy trapped in the rushes.

Garda Liam Glendon

Liam, who is also a volunteer with Mallow Search & Rescue, received an alert that someone was drowning in the river Blackwater. He got to the scene quickly and swam to the drowning man who soon made a full recovery.

Garda David Fenton

David, who is also a volunteer with the RNLI, received an alert that a woman was drowning near the pier. He swam to the woman and kept her calm and safe in the water until a boat arrived to take her to shore where she was brought o hospital and made a full recovery.

Garda Dean Phelan

Dean received an alert that a man was drowning at The Cove in Bray Head. He swam to the unconscious casualty, brought him to shore and placed him in the recovery position. He made a full recovery thanks to Dean and the ambulance service.

Garda Micheal Carroll

When Micheal received an alert that a man was drowning near the quay, he rushed to the scene, swam to the rescue and brought the man to safety.
Well done Michael.

Gardai Brendan Crawford, Ciaran Murray & Ciara Galvin

When a woman was pulled into the water by her dog, Brendan and Ciaran tied a rope to each other and entered the water to rescue the lady while Ciara held the rope securely on the river bank to help them all back to shore.

Jack Grove & Gardai Christopher Smith & Jamie Lillis

Christopher and Jack swam to the rescue of a drowning man, using a ringbuoy to keep him afloat while they all waited on rocks for the Irish Coast Guard which was called by Jamie from shore. The man was brought back to the pier and treated at the scene.

Gardai Roisin O’Donnell and Keenan McGavisk

Roisin and Keenan entered the water and crossed the entire river. using a torch to locate a man at risk of drowning. They found him, rescued him, and got him to the hospital where he made a full recovery.

Callum Curtin & Kevin Sharkey

When a child was swept out to sea, Callum and Kevin grabbed their surfboards and rescued both the child and a person who tried to rescue the child but got into difficulty. Within moments, they saved three more children who were swept out by a strong current. Shortly after that, they saved another young girl and two adults trying to save her. Within 45 minutes, they had saved eight people from drowning.

Joe Breen

Joe paddled to help rescue two very distressed paddleboarders drifting out to sea on an offshore wind. As emergency services were called, Joe placed the lady on his paddleboard as her husband paddled alongside, eventually helping to get them both safely back to shore.

Jim Swift

Jim used his surfboard to help a young girl caught in a strong rip current at Tramore beach. His quick response as the lifeboat arrived, helped to ensure that the girl was taken to safety and assessed by emergency services.

Clodagh West Keogh & Lorna Keogh

Clodagh and Lorna were painting on the side of the riverbank when they heard two men shouting for help downstream. Clodagh grabbed a ringbuoy and ran towards the men who were struggling in the water. Lorna swam across the river to calm their young children who were panicking. Clodagh entered the water and twice used the ringbuoy to save both men.

Tony Collins, Paddy Collins, Conor Hayes and Ben Tennyson

Tony, Paddy, Conor and Ben were walking across St John’s bridge when they saw a man bobbing up and down in the water in distress. They grabbed a nearby ringbuoy and threw it a number of times until they reached the man and pulled him to safety.

Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan

Patrick and Morgan rescued two paddleboarders, Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney who were swept out to sea and spent fifteen hours lost overnight. As a massive search and rescue effort involving the Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI, local fishing vessels, and many onshore walkers continued, Patrick and Morgan took to their fishing boat and found the girls clinging to a lobster pot south west of Inis Oírr, after using their local knowledge to estimate where the currents might have carried them.

Published in Water Safety
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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.

Published in Water Safety

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.

Published in Water Safety
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The Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland are appealing to the public to be mindful of the drowning risk associated with the use of inflatable toys in open water.

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
Published in Coastguard
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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.

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Lifeguards are operating on weekends in June and fulltime in July and August. There is a list of lifeguarded waterways on but check with your local authority in case of changes to beach opening times.
  5. 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.
  6. Swim with a friend or with family, in case emergency services need to be called.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Supervise children closely.
  10. 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.
  11. Those going afloat should carry a portable Marine VHF and/or a personal locator beacon and walkers should carry a mobile phone.
  12.  In an emergency call 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.
Published in Water Safety
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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.

Published in Water Safety
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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.’

Published in Coastguard
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