We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

People swimming at Dublin's Forty Foot last summer. Leah Farrell/
water safety

Water safety appeal issued ahead of bank holiday weekend

The Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI and Water Safety Ireland are urging people to stay safe in and on the water or along the coastline.

THE IRISH COAST Guard, the RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint call urging people to take basic precautions to stay safe in and on the water or along the coastline this bank holiday weekend.

The organisations said there has been a seasonable increase in the overall number of search and rescue incidents with activity levels similar to recent years.

They are urging anyone involved in sea kayaking and similar activities in particular to make sure they receive proper training before going on the water, to carry a reliable means of calling for help and to tell someone where they are going and what time they will be back.

For those planning on heading out on the water or visiting the coast, the organisations have outlined a few steps to take in advance:

  • Always check the weather and tides before participating in any open water or coastal activity. 
  • Always carry a reliable means of raising the alarm with you (ie phone or VHF radio).
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid on the water.
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off. 

People planning on heading out to swim are being asked to consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm as water temperatures are still cold at this time of year, making cold water shock a danger. 

They should also wear a bright swimming cap and consider using a tow float to increase their visibility.

The organisations said it’s also important to acclimatise slowly when entering the water.

They also stressed that someone should always monitor a swimmer’s activity while they’re in the water, and urged people never to swim alone.

“It is important to have a means of communication if engaging in any water based activity,” Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said.

“When boating, carry a VHF radio, backed up by flares PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Never solely rely on a mobile phone.”

He added that prior to undertaking any boat activity, people should ensure that their equipment is fit for purpose and that a shore-based contact is aware of your plans and how long you will be on the water.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead also advised people to check their equipment and to get their lifejackets serviced annually.

“Not everyone intends to end up in the water. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat,” he said.

“Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.”

Water Safety Ireland’s acting CEO Roger Sweeney cautioned that muscle cooling due to hypothermia is a factor in many drownings.

“Swim within your depth and keep it short as warm air does not mean warm water, especially in May. Children require close, constant, uninterrupted supervision. When shoreline walking, beware of being stranded by incoming tides,” he said.

He added that many recently arrived Ukrainians have never visited a beach and are unfamiliar with stranding risks, and asked that people keep them safe by reaching out in their community with the translated advice on Water Safety Ireland’s website

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel