Stay safe in water this weekend, urge campaigners

Water safety campaigners have reminded everyone out enjoying themselves by the water to be careful over the August bank holiday weekend.

A worrying 80% of drownings occur close to the victim’s home, according to Irish Water Safety, so they are asking for people to be vigilant even in familiar waters. Drownings can occur very quickly and silently, so swimming in quiet isolated area can be risky, they warned.

The main group at risk of drowning are men aged between 20-59, and alcohol is a factor behind a “third of all adult deaths in the water”, a spokesman noted. In fact, out of the total 122 people who drowned in Irish waters last year, 91 were male.

These figures for drownings last year vary widely across a range of different water activities, and accidents say can happen at any time in the water, with fatal consequences, an Irish Water Safety spokesperson said.

Ahead of the August bank holiday and the potential sunny weather, the organisation is aware the number of people taking to the water either in the sea, or in lakes and rivers will be high.

The group is asking people to only swim in areas with a lifeguard present, and avoid swimming alone or after dark. Other cautionary measures they advise include avoiding alcohol before swimming; not staying in the water too long; and not swimming out of your depth.

Children always need to be carefully watched and supervised near water the group warns, and in the last ten years 30 children have tragically drowned in Irish waters.

John Leech, a spokesperson for Irish Water Safety, said some provisional good news was that 2016 figures show “nine less people” have been lost in Irish waters compared to this time last year.

Mr Leech said he welcomed the positive figures, but cautioned that there is “much of this year yet to come”, particularly the busy August holiday season.

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