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Water Safety Ambassador Henry O'Donnell Goes Blue for World Drowning Prevention Day

26th July 2022
Round Ireland swimmer and Water Safety Ambassador Henry O'Donnell Goes Blue for World Drowning Prevention Day
Round Ireland swimmer and Water Safety Ambassador Henry O'Donnell Goes Blue for World Drowning Prevention Day

Sporting blue hair, painted blue eyelids and a blue wave painted on his chest, Water Safety Ireland ambassador Henry O’Donnell took to the Donegal coastline to issue a safety appeal on World Drowning Prevention day.

The former Army Ranger, lifeguard, diver and swim instructor, who recently became the first man to finswim around Ireland, invited people to “do one positive thing” to save lives.

Children under the age of five are at highest risk, he noted, with drownings often occurring during routine activities, such as bathing, collecting water for domestic use, travelling over water on boats or ferries, and fishing.

“ The impacts of seasonal or extreme weather events are also a frequent cause of drowning,”he said, and “most of these deaths are preventable with common sense low cost solutions”.

Such solutions include installing barriers controlling access to water, providing safe places away from water such as crèches for pre-school children with capable childcare, and teaching swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills, he said.

Training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation, setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations, adopting a water safety culture and improving flood risk management are other measures, he said.

Drowning is one of the main causes of death around the world for people aged between one and 27 years of age, he noted, and more than 225,000 people drown each year globally.

Listen to Henry O'Donnell on podcast with Lorna Siggins here

Published in Sea Swim
Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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