Our beaches are safer for swimming than ever

I read with interest Councillor Noel Collins’s letter (Irish Examiner, January 24). He raised issues about dangerous beaches and waters.

Our beaches are safer for swimming than ever

Irish Water Safety (IWS) is the statutory body that promotes water safety in Ireland. We work with all the local authorities, who have water-safety development officers (WSDO).

The Cork WSDO is particularly pro-active in relation to county beaches.

IWS has been risk-assessing beaches all over Ireland since 1971. Councillor Collins says that, “on average, 300 people lose their lives each year in drowning tragedies”.

This is incorrect, as, on average over the last decade, we have lost 135 people, which is still far too many, but the trend is downward and, last year, we lost 91 people, the lowest number since 1936.

Councillor Collins refers to “suction pools”, by which I think he may mean rip currents. On the stronger surf beaches in Cork, rip currents do exist.

Should you ever get caught in one, then swim parallel to the beach, until you get out of the rip current. Cork Co Council has initiated a water-safety flag for schools, and it will be launched this week in Kildororrey national school.

There are also safety-information boards on the main bathing beaches in Cork and these alert the public to the dangers.

The only beach in Ireland that is not suitable for swimmers is Strand Hill, Sligo, though it is world-renowned for surfing.

John F M Leech

CEO IWS

The Long Walk

Galway

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