Water Safety on Inland Waterways
Lakes, rivers, canals, streams, disused quarries and other inland waterways sometimes hold different dangers to the sea or swimming pools. 62% of all drownings happen on inland waterways, where the water is often much colder than in the sea and there are no lifeguards on duty.
- Where possible only swim at designated bathing areas where lifeguards are on duty during the bathing season which runs from June 1st to the September 15th.
- If there is no Designated Bathing Area near you then swim at known traditional bathing areas where there are ring buoys erected that you can use if somebody gets in to difficulty.
- Don’t swim in Quarries and ESB Reservoirs and tail races.
- Often the water is much colder, especially below the surface and this can catch you off guard. Wear a wetsuit if you are not used to cold water.
- It can also be difficult to see below the surface so you could get out of your depth very quickly.
- You should always enter the water feet first, as you may not be able to see items that have been submerged, where you could strike your head while diving in.
- Never wade in after balls, model boats or other objects as the ground beneath the surface can be rocky, fall away quickly or be soft and muddy, so you get stuck.
- Always play away from the banks of the water as they can be less stable and crumble.
- Check before you enter the water if there is a ringbouy. And if it is missing, report it and don’t swim there until it has been replaced.
- Never swim alone. Always ensure there are other people around who know you are going into the water.
- During winter months, ice can form on the surface of inland waterways, never go onto the ice, as you can’t tell how stable it is.
Water Safety at Swimming Pools
A day out at the swimming pool, whether on holidays or locally is always great fun. Be water safe at swimming pools.
- Even when a lifeguard is on duty, parents need to supervise younger children or those who are not confident swimmers, at all times.
- Always check how deep or shallow the water is especially before diving in.
- Heed warnings about horseplay and jumping/diving on signs and listen to lifeguards.
- Never run along the side of the pool.
- Check for other swimmers before you jump or dive in.
- Supervise children when in paddling pools at home too.
Getting out on the water in a boat is a real adventure. Whether you are sailing, rowing, paddling or using an engine. Here are a few basic safety tips to promote safe boating:
- Check the condition of your boat before you set sail.
- Ensure you have enough fuel, a torch, mobile phone and/or marine radio, hand bailer, anchor and the correct equipment on board.
- Ensure everyone is wearing a well-fitted life jacket or life vest, even if they can swim.
- Check the weather forecast so you don’t get caught out.
- If you are unfamiliar with the area, check tide times and information on any dangerous currents or rocks/sand banks hidden beneath surface.
- Have an alternative method of getting back to shore if for instance, an engine fails. This could be a sail or oars.
- Pack a first aid kit and distress signal kit.
- Never overload a boat as it will become unstable.
- Tell someone where you are going and what time to expect you back.
- Ensure at least one person on the boat has boating experience.
Safe Coastal Walking
As well as having amazing beaches, we have an abundance of coastal walks to enjoy here in Ireland. While coastal walking is generally safe, there are several risks you should be aware of before setting out to enjoy a stroll with the family.
- Check the weather forecast before setting out. Coastal mists can come in very quickly and you could be caught unawares.
- Only use designated coastal paths.
- Check tide times so you don’t get stranded by incoming tides.
- Bring a mobile phone, compass and a map of your route.
- Stay away from the edges, even on lower ground, as they can be unstable or prone to erosion slips.
- Wear the correct footwear.
- Stay together and let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you home.
- If you are walking with your pet, never follow them into the water.
Water Safety at Home
You can drown in just a few inches or water. It is important to know the dangers that exist at home and stay with younger children at all times when they are around water.
- Ensure all drains and man-holes have tight fitting covers.
- Cover rain water barrels, leaving just enough space for rain to get in and warn children to stay away from them.
- Always supervise children when using paddling pools.
- Warn children of the dangers of going near ponds.
- If you have a home pool, ensure the cover is tight fitting.
- Supervise younger children while in the bath.
- While jumping in muddy puddles is great fun, make sure you check the depth of any puddles as they could be deeper than they look.
Water Safety on Farms
Working farms can have more hazards than other properties. They often have slurry pits, ponds and water barrels for feeding animals and collecting rainwater. Supervision and education of children on farms is key to keeping them safe.
- Teach children to avoid slurry pits. It is never safe to enter a slurry pit and if someone does fall in, shout for help and extend a branch or item of clothing to them to catch so you can drag them out. Never go in after them.
- If you have a pond or other water source, supervise children when they are near it.
- Explain the dangers of getting to close to the edge of natural water holes. The sides are often slippery and unstable.
- Reeds and other plants can obscure the edge of water features, so stay away from reeds growing near water.
- During winter months, don’t go onto ice formed on ponds or other water features.
- Teach children to stay away from water barrels and cover them as best you can.
- Drains should be covered with a tight fitting lid.
- Holes that are filled with water may be deeper than you think, so use a stick to judge depth or better still, avoid them.
- Have fencing around streams or rivers that run through your land.
Water Safety During Floods
In the last number of years, flooding has become an increasing problem for people who live in costal regions or in close proximity to rivers and streams. Fast moving water can exert pressure of up to 4 times it’s speed and water displaces bodyweight. So the deeper the water, the less your bodyweight matters.
It is imperative to heed flood warnings and stay away from areas where there is a risk of flooding as there is a very real danger of being knocked over or swept away, even while driving, by the current when a river breaks it’s banks or the sea breaches flood defences.
Flood Water Safety Tips:
- Heed flood warnings.
- Block doorways and access points with sandbags, floodgates or even plastic bags filled with earth.
- Stay away from the source of the flood, no matter how curious you are.
- Move vehicles, livestock and yourself, if necessary, to higher ground before the flood comes.
- Do not drive on flooded roads as it is difficult to judge the depth of the water and your vehicle could be swept away.
- If swept away in fast flowing water, never put your feet down as they can catch in hidden obstacles beneath the surface, trapping you.
- Take care when using electric appliances.
Water Safety Ireland run a full education program nationwide with courses on everything from how to become a lifeguard to water safety courses including water survival and self rescue techniques.
Many courses take place at beaches during the summer months and year round at swimming pools. Through education you will learn to have a healthy respect for water and understand the dangers so you can enjoy water sports and activities safely.