It’s never too early to learn swimming and lifesaving skills. I started swimming at six and began water safety classes aged eight. As a lifeguard, the lessons I learned have helped me save many lives. As an instructor, I now get to pass those skills on. Water safety classes are available in summer and winter at both coastal and inland locations. They are inexpensive and there are family discounts available. I’d urge anyone to get involved. These are skills that will stay with you for life.
Water Safety Ireland Summer Weeks Classes
These classes are suitable for all ages. From children as young as four to young adults at 19 years of age.
These classes foster a healthy respect for the water rather than an unhealthy fear. As an island nation, our waters are one of our greatest resources. These classes set you up to be able to enjoy them safely.
You’ll learn essential water safety and lifesaving skills.
Classes cover: Rescue skills, survival skills and resuscitation.
The summer programme averages some 180 courses in 23 counties.
here are fantastic swimming spots at lakes and rivers all around the country. However, it’s important for people to be aware of the differences between fresh water and salt water, and to know the hazards unique to inland waterways. The best advice is to seek out a lifeguarded area and always swim there. Lifeguards are on duty for weekends in June, and full time for July and August.
Advice for rivers and lakes
Swim at Designated Bathing Areas where lifeguards are on duty. For a full list just click here
Swim and stay in the swim zone between the red and yellow flags. Lifeguards are there to protect. Let them be there for you.
Always swim and stay within your depth.
Supervise children at all times. Tell your child to go to the lifeguard hut if they get lost.
Never jump in without thinking. Be aware of sudden depths.
Look out for hidden dangers like submerged objects. Poor visibility can hide what’s underneath the surface and entanglement is a risk.
Be aware of currents. They are not always obvious and can me much stronger than you imagine.
Never use inflatable toys in open water. They have no traction and can be easily carried far from shore by wind and currents.
Stay away from edges, particularly where there is slippery, unstable or uneven ground.
If you see somebody in trouble in the water: SHOUT – REACH – THROW.
SHOUT to calm, encourage and orientate them.
REACH with anything that avoids you needing to enter the water. Use a branch, pole, rope or even a piece of clothing.
t’s fantastic to see the rising interest in water sports all over the country. However, many people are purchasing craft that are unsafe and are going out on the water without getting proper training. As with all water sports, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
Advice for paddle boarding and kayaking
Be able to swim. This is a must.
Never use inflatable paddle boards or kayaks in open water.
Location counts. Look for a calm body of water and stay close to shore.
Be extra careful in shallow water to avoid falling into rocks or oyster beds.
Always wear a lifejacket or personal buoyancy aid.
Use a leash to keep you connected to your board at all times.
Check the weather and water conditions before going out.
Never go out on the water alone.
Always tell someone on shore where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
Have a means of calling for help in a waterproof bag – a fully charged mobile phone of VHF radio.
Proper training is essential. Join a club in your area.
Strandings are a regular occurrence at beaches all over Ireland. When the tides goes out, sandbanks are revealed, often with just a small amount of water around them. These little islands are magnets for adults and children alike. Walkers can also be drawn to them. However, when the tide turns, what may have been only a few inches of water can quickly become a few metres. People find themselves cut off from shore and surrounded by water that is out of their depth.
How to avoid being stranded
Learn about local tides and currents. If you’re unfamiliar with a beach always ask a lifeguard or a local about potential hazards.
Know about high tides and low tides. They are affected by the cycle of the moon, which follows a consistent four-week pattern.
Spring tides, unlike the name suggests, occur every two weeks. A spring tide means high tides are higher and low tides are lower than average. This can reveal normally hidden sandbanks. Be aware of them and exercise caution.
Know that incoming tides can quickly backfill behind you and block your safe return to shore.
Walkers should always check tides times before heading out.
Be aware that higher high tides pose a greater risk of being washed into the sea. Walkers should stay away from edges.
Bring a fully charged phone in a waterproof bag. If you get into trouble call 112 or 999 and ask the coastguard for assistance.
A day with the kids at a beach, river or lake is free, healthy and fun. With the sun shining, waves crashing and people everywhere, it’s also a day full of distractions. It’s so easy for a child to become lost in the moment, and seconds later to be quite literally lost. That’s why it’s so important for parents to supervise children closely. Young children can drown in just a few inches of water.
Advice for parents at beaches, rivers and lakes
Always swim at lifeguarded waterways.
Supervise children at all times. Tell your child to go to the lifeguard hut if they get lost.
Look for the swim zone and ensure your children always stay and swim within the flags. Ask the lifeguard if you’re unsure where it is.
Ensure your children know what the flags mean and only swim when it is safe to do so.
Ensure children swim within their depth and stay within their depth
Leave inflatable toys at home. They are very dangerous in open water. The slightest breeze can take children away from shore and out of their depth.
Warm air does not mean warm water. Don’t let children stay in too long and ensure they get fully warm immediately after getting out.
In rivers and lakes, the water is less buoyant and can be colder than sea water. Know what you’re getting into.
At rivers and lakes, be aware of hidden dangers and unexpected depths. Children should never jump in without thinking. At beaches, they shouldn’t jump from piers for the same reasons.
In the case of jelly fish stings or weever fish stings, go to the lifeguard for first aid.
Inflatables toys and open water don’t mix. They have no traction as they sit on the surface of the water. They can be swept out very quickly by wind and currents, often faster than someone can swim after them. They can take a child out of their depth very quickly, and as they are unstable, it is very easy for a child to fall off and end up in the water. The simple fact is that these toys should never be used in open water. We ask parents to discourage their use and never bring them to the beach, river or lake.
Things to know about inflatables
Never use inflatable toys, paddle boards or kayaks in open water.
Remember that these items are toys, not safety devices.
Strong currents can rapidly sweep inflatables and people out to sea.
Strong winds can blow an inflatable out to sea in minutes. Often a lot faster than a person can swim.
If it isn’t fully inflated, it can bow or snap back on the user pushing them into the water.
In some cases, people have panicked and abandoned the inflatable resulting in sudden immersion in cold water. This can lead to cold water shock and incapacitation.
Well Done to Lynn McCarthy and Conall Boyle who both won awards at the 2022 West Cork Garda Youth Awards
Lynn McCarthy from Clonakilty who was nominated by Community Garda Damian White. For her participation in Surf Lifesaving, and instructing Water Safety. Lynn then used her knowledge and rescue skills on the 27th May 2020 at inchydoney Beach. Where she rescued 4 swimmers in difficulty.
Lynn was also presented with a Water Safety Ireland SEIKO ‘Just in Time Award’
Congratulations and well done Lynn.
Conall Boyle from Courtmacsherry and nominated by his principal Ian Coombes of Bandon Grammar School. Was recognised with an overall individual award.
Conall has worked with Cork Water Safety and
Cork County Council lifeguard service for several years where he teaches Water Safety rescue techniques, BLS and first aid. He is an advocate by encouraging his peers to train and then become lifeguards also within Bandon Grammar School by teaching other pupils in the beach lifeguard award.
Conall has also been an able peer leader during Bandon Grammar Schools mental health awareness week. He then used his proactivness in August 2020 where he swam 5km in aid of charity for Mental Health Ireland where he raised €3000.
Congratulations and well done Conall.
Well done Lynn and Conall you are both young leaders and individuals who always seek the opportunity to help others and your community.
As you know, the WSI National Awards Ceremony 2020 will take place online on Tuesday the 24thof November 2020.
WSACs decided to postpone Long Service Volunteer Awards until next year, in the hope that we will have progressed through the Covid-19 pandemic sufficiently to allow members to meet each other at Dublin Castle next year.
This year’s Ceremony will acknowledge not only the rescuers from 32 incidents who saved 51 lives, but also the recipients of WSI Sports Persons of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Life Governor of WSI and some Community & Social responsibility Awards.
The Ceremony itself has been designed for online viewing purposes so the entire Ceremony will run for 30 minutes.
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