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Water Angels & Water Safety

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Water Angels is a charity association which was set up by the Quinlan Family to help raise awareness of water safety and drownings for kids.

The Quinlins 21/2 year old son died in their swimming pool in spain four years ago which prompted them to start Water Angels.

Lynn Quinlan is here to raise awareness of their special bracelets - the safety turtle bracelets.

National Irish Water Safety Week begins on Monday the 26th of May.

Lynn Quinlan: Bereaved mum and pioneer of the turtle water safety bracelet.
Lisa Anderton: Irish Water Safety Representative

The Safety Turtle bracelet:
The Safety Turtle wristband is put on a child's wrist and features a small water-sensitive turtle, so kids are keener on wearing them whilst playing about on holidays. Available in two bright colours (green and blue) each Turtle is permanently sealed and ruggedly built to withstand child's play.

Should the child wearing the Turtle enter water, an audible shrill alarm sounds from the base station which needs to be located up to 100m from the poolside, alerting adults to the situation.

The Safety Turtle and its base station, normally located in the villa or home, is the only security system that provides continuous protection in a pool setting. The safety device works with water hazards such as pools, hot tubs, fountains, ponds, lakes and rivers - at home or away from home.

The device is portable and durable with a battery life of four years, and comes with a handy shoulder bag which is easy to carry as baggage.

                             ****It does not work with sea water****

The device is designed for home use only.  As the receptor needs to be plugged in and salt in the water interferes with the signal.

Where is the device available: is the sole distributor of the Safety Turtle in Ireland and parents can purchase on at €199 including post and packaging.

Average number accidental drownings in Ireland every year
59 (based on a 10 year average). In 2006 there were 53 (45 male, 8 Female reflecting the saying "Boys will be Boys" 

How many of these are kids?
20 kids under 14 years of age drowned in Ireland over the last 5 years (to end of 2006) 

Why is this?
Some reasons are quite obvious as it only takes seconds for tragedy to strike if a child manages to distract their minder.

Other Factors
1. The absence of protective clothing such as lifejackets. Sometimes the sight of beautiful picture-postcard scenes can lull people into a false sense of security.
2. Young victims are often the victims of their own misjudgment of their swimming ability. They may view a waterway as a tempting means of cooling off in a hot spell but fail to appreciate the harmful effects that cold water can have on their stamina and strength. 
3. Lack of awareness of the dangers presented by water and that's why Education is so important. Key to this Education program is Irish Water Safety's Primary Aquatics Water Safety programme which is now a component part of the physical education strand of the primary school curriculum.

Irish Water Safety Week Main Message (IWS Week Starts Monday 26th May)
To encourage safe summer swimming nationwide.  A "14 Steps to Safe Swimming" guide. This will be available online at and thanks to sponsorship by KIA, 250,000 of them will be distributed to 141 Lifeguard huts nationwide. A list of Life guarded waterways are listed on our website

What are your top tips when children around the water?
The overall top tip is constant vigilance as it only takes seconds for tragedy to strike.

The Irish Water Safety Top Tips Are:
1. There is no substitute for supervision
2. Don't let children swim just after eating
3. Don't let children swim in unfamiliar territory
4. Don't let children swim after something drifting.
5. Don't let children stay in the water too long
6. Swim parallel and close to the shore
7. Do what the lifeguard tells you
8. Never use air mattresses and learn to use new equipment before trying it out
9. Pay attention to signs on the beach
10. Learn Basic Life Support
***** Remember these rules; Enjoy yourself; Come home safely.

What do the flags mean?
There are two flags that the lifeguards use:
1: When it is safe to swim - the flag is red over yellow

When there is a red over yellow flag flying people should make sure they swim between the flags (this is the area patrolled by the lifeguards). There will be two flags on either side of the lifeguard's duty points.

2: When it is not safe to swim - the flag is red
Note: When there is no flag present there is no lifeguard on duty so therefore people should not get into the water.
Paws & Jaws - Water Safety Initiatives developed in conjunction with the Dept of Education

PAWS - Primary Aquatics Water Safety
Developed in conjunction with the Department of Education and Science when Aquatics was introduced into the Primary School P.E. Curriculum.

PAWS includes all the aspects of the Aquatics Strand in the Primary School Physical Education:
.        Water Safety
.        Hygiene
.        Entry and Exit from water
.        Buoyancy and Propulsion
.        Stroke Development
.        Water based games
.        Understanding and Appreciation of Aquatics

PAWS is exclusive to Primary Schools.
Each child receives a Nationally recognised certificate.
All schools can participate - 3 awards are based in schools meaning that even if a school cannot bring the pupils to a swimming pool etc. the pupils can still be educated in Water Safety best practices.
Resources for this programme include posters, leaflets etc.
Also Teacher Guidelines and Suggested Questions - to help teachers in the teaching of PAWS and water safety best practices.
JAWS- Junior Aquatics Water Safety
This is a follow on programme from PAWS. It is based in secondary schools.

Aquatics is also on the Junior Cycle P.E. Curriculum.
The programme enables pupils to develop their water safety awareness, their survival skills and their basic rescue techniques.
Pupils receive a Nationally recognised Award when they finish the course.

. A list of Lifeguarded waterways are listed on the website
. Top Tips all on swimming are all on the IWS Website