Caution urged around water this summer after 79 drownings in 2021

Caution Urged Around Water This Summer After 79 Drownings In 2021
Water Safety Ireland, the Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint appeal at the start of summer. Photo: PA
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By Rebecca Black, PA

Caution has been urged around waterways at the start of the summer season.

Water Safety Ireland, the Coast Guard and the RNLI issued a joint appeal on National Water Safety Awareness Week.


Some 79 people drowned in 2021, up three from 2020 but below the annual average of 111 each year over the last decade.

In total, 1,108 people drowned in the last 10 years.

Roger Sweeney, acting chief executive at Water Safety Ireland, described the deaths as a “tragic unnecessary loss of life and a significant public health issue”.

“Drownings can happen quickly and silently and warmer weather sometimes lulls people into a false sense of security, however waterways are still quite cool which affects the muscles needed to swim safely back to shore,” he said.


“Swim at lifeguarded waterways or in designated bathing areas that are known to be safe and have ring buoys present. Stay within your depth, supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys on open water as you can be swept from shore in an instant.”

Mr Sweeney said alcohol was a factor in one third of drownings, adding it should never be consumed before any aquatic activity as it can lead to someone overestimating their ability and underestimating the risks.

Good weather

Kevin Rahill, RNLI water safety lead, added: “With the weather improving and more people going in or on the water, it is important to take some basic steps to stay safe while having fun.

“If you are going swimming, try to avoid going alone and make sure you are visible at all times by wearing a brightly coloured swim cap.


“Use a tow float and carry a suitable means of communication such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and a whistle.

“If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.

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“For those going afloat, wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device and carry a reliable means of raising the alarm such as a VHF radio or mobile phone.

“Go prepared by checking the weather forecast and tide times, tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back, and importantly, what to do if you do not arrive back on time.


“Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.”

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