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Water Safety June Bank Holiday Weekend & Advice for Bathers


There are 133 drownings in Ireland every year –more than five every fortnight. Over the June Bank Holiday, people will be at risk of cold shock, hypothermia and drowning when visiting coastlines and inland waterways. Irish Water Safety urges everyone, including waterside walkers, to be mindful of these dangers and not become complacent in dangerous situations.

People have a responsibility to themselves and family to stay safe around water by knowing the dangers and learning from previous situations such as the following that have led to tragic drownings:

  • Always wear a lifejacket when boating and ensure that it properly maintained and has a correctly fitted crotch strap. It is rare that somebody drowns when wearing one and if they do drown it is normally because of a malfunction or from being fitted incorrectly.
  • Shore walkers should stay away from the edge and beach walkers should remain vigilant to the dangers of being stranded by incoming tides.
  • Ensure that you are fully trained and competent for your aquatic activity. Find training providers at www.safetyzone.ie.
  • Child safety requires constant uninterrupted supervision to avoid tragedy. Parents of primary school children should check if their local school has yet introduced Irish Water Safety’s classroom programme – Primary Aquatics
  • Water Safety, which teaches children all about staying safe from drowning. The program is a non-mandatory part of the primary school curriculum and is key to reducing child drowning mortalities and injuries.
  • Anglers should be extremely vigilant of Atlantic swells and wear a lifejacket when fishing from the shoreline.
  • Swimmers should swim parallel and close to the shore and be aware that seawater temperature, currently as low as 9°C, is still too cold for extended swims.
  • Alcohol should be avoided before or during any aquatic activity. On average, a third of drowning victims had consumed alcohol.
  • In a developing emergency situation, call 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. Always call early.


Irish Water Safety encourages everyone to take swimming and water survival classes - for further information click on www.iws.ie 

Report missing or vandalised ringbuoys on www.ringbuoys.ie.


Warm weather advice for bathers to stay safe

Irish Water Safety is appealing to the public to take care when swimming in this warm weather. 62% of all drownings occur at inland water sites. Water temperature is 16° Celsius and less in many inland sites and is 13° and less at sea. Cold Shock is the greatest contributing factor to drowning on our island nation 

Hypothermia - What to do

1. Swim at Designated Bathing Areas and remember that there are NO lifeguards on duty yet - Bathing season runs from the 1st of June to the 15th September

2. If there is no Designated Bathing Area near you then swim at known traditional bathing areas where there are ringbuoys erected that you can use if somebody gets in to difficulty

3. Swim within your depth – stay within your depth

4. Use local knowledge to determine local hazards and safest areas to swim

5. Always ensure that the ringbuoy is in its yellow box before entering the water

6. Make sure that the edges are shallow shelving so that you can safely and easily enter and exit the water

7. Wear a wet suit if you are not used to the cold water

8. Stay Away From The Edge after you consume alcohol as 30% of all drowned victims have consumed alcohol.

The majority of drownings, 62%, occur inland where river and lake beds can be difficult to see and therefore extremely difficult to determine if you are swimming within your depth. The onset of cramp, combined with the panicked realisation that you are out of your depth can have tragic consequences and be compounded further by the muscle cooling effect of longer periods in open water.

If you see someone in difficulty, these simple steps may save a life:

A. Shout to the casualty and encourage them to shore. This may orientate them just enough.
B. Reach out with a long object such a branch or a piece of clothing but do not enter the water yourself.
C. Throw a ringbuoy or any floating object and call 112 for the coast guard.

Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 01/06/2018