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The Big Swim - Irish Water Safety

Thursday, 6 May 2010

1. If you are out water you dog and it falls in to a river/stream/lake etc what should do or do not do.
Dogs tend to make for water any chance they get.
Resist the urge to jump in after a dog as you risk your life doing so.
Speak - use your voice to encourage your dog to shore.

2. If you come across a person who has fallen in river/stream/lake etc what should do or do not do.


Shout for help and ask someone to call Marine rescue on 999 or 112.

Use your voice to calm and reassure the person and encourage them to swim to shore.
If the person is close enough, use a coat, branch, brush handle etc to reach out and pull the person in.
When available, use public rescue equipment such as a ringbuoy.

3. If you decide to go out on a boat what precautions should you take before hand?

. Check condition of boat and equipment, hull , engine, fuel, tools, torch.
. Check the weather forecast for the area.
. Check locally concerning dangerous currents, strong tides etc.
. Do not drink alcohol while setting out or during your trip.
. Carry an alternative means of propulsion e.g. sails and oars or motor and oars.
. Carry a first aid kit on board and distress signals (at least two parachute distress rockets, two red hand flares).
. Carry a fire extinguisher, a hand bailer or bucket with lanyard and an anchor with rope attached.
. Carry marine radio or some means of communication with shore.
. Do not overload the boat - this will make it unstable.
. Do not set out unless accompanied by an experienced person.
. Leave details of your planned trip with someone ashore - including departure and arrival times, description of boat, names of persons on board, etc.
. Wear a Personal Flotation Device at all times.
. Keep an eye on the weather - seek shelter in good time.
. In Marine Emergencies, call 999 or 112 and ask for Marine Rescue.

4. What should you do if your car is submerged in water?
Hitting water is not that far off from hitting a wall, so the car will decelerate suddenly, just like it would in an accident, so you'll need your seat belt.

Once you're in the water, your car will not sink immediately. So the first thing to do is open the side windows since the doors may be held shut by the water pressure.

Keep in mind for passengers that some rear windows don't go down all the way so rear passengers might have to exit through the front. go out the window and swim to safety.

If you are in a car that's sinking and you can't open or break a window, try not to panic. At that point, you'll have to wait until the car is pretty much underwater before trying the door.

Once you're in the water, the pressure pushing against the door from all that water on the outside will make it nearly impossible for you to open the door. Your only choice is to wait until the car is full of water, and the pressure is equalized. While you're waiting, you'll find an air bubble at the top of the passenger compartment, near the roof.

Once the car is full of water, take a deep breath, brace yourself and use your feet to try to push the door open. It still won't be easy. Expect it to move slowly.

And by that point, the car will be sinking, nose first, since the engine makes the front end the heavy end.

Your best bet is to get that window open as quickly as possible. That's your surest escape route.

A vehicle with its engine in the front will sink at a steep angle and may land on its roof if the water is 15 feet or deeper. As the car starts its final plunge to the bottom, water rapidly displaces the remaining air. An air bubble can stay in a submerged vehicle, but it is unlikely that it would remain by the time the car hits the bottom.

When the car is completely filled, the doors may be a little easier to open unless they are blocked by mud and silt. Remember too, chances are that the car will be upside down at this point! Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished. This underscores the necessity of getting out of the car before it starts to sink.

5. On your website you have a section on Tourism signs and symbols so maybe we could take about a few of the most common ones.

The World Tourism Organization has developed a unique system of information in the field of tourism. This publication on tourism signs and symbols and visitor signage is one of its results. Ireland: red on yellow for safety, red for danger
Spain: green for safety, yellow for caution, red for danger.
6. What do the flags on the beaches mean?

. Red over yellow flags: the area patrolled by lifeguards.
. Red flag: too dangerous to swim
. No flag: No Lifeguard patrol.

7. Checklist for using a lifejacket.

The main difference between lifejackets and buoyancy aids is that a lifejacket is designed to turn an unconscious person face up on entering the water.

You must ensure that it is the correct size, properly fastened and that you understand how to operate it. Wearing an appropriate personal floatation device can give you extra time for the search and rescue services to find and rescue you.

Buoyancy is measured in Newtons - 10 Newtons equals' 1kg of flotation. There are 4 European standards for personal floatation devices, which must all carry the CE mark:

1. Buoyancy aids with 50 Newtons are only for use by swimmers in sheltered waters when help is close at hand. They are not guaranteed to turn a person from a facedown position in the water
2. The 100 Newton buoyancy aid is for those who may still has to wait for rescue but are likely to be in sheltered and calm water.
3. The 150 Newton lifejacket is for general offshore and rough weather use where a high standard of performance is required.
4. The 275 Newton lifejacket is primarily for offshore and extreme conditions and those wearing heavy protective clothing.
The right personal floatation device?

Personal floatation devices are available with foam-only buoyancy, air-foam buoyancy or air-only buoyancy. The most suitable type for you will depend on the type of activity and the distance you are likely to be from the shore.

. Foam only personal floatation devices provide buoyancy at all times. They may be bulky, but in addition to providing buoyancy, they often provide additional protection against wind and cold.

. Air-only lifejackets are likely to be the most compact and comfortable and may be automatically activated on entering the water or inflated manually or orally. Spare gas cylinders and automatic inflation mechanisms should be carried.

. It is recommended that all personal floatation devices are fitted with a whistle, light and retro-reflective strips and should have crotch straps.

. For some sports such as jet skiing, water skiing, dinghy sailing, windsurfing and canoeing, specialised personal floatation devices

are available which are specifically designed to suit these sports.
. Visually Check all lifejackets and buoyancy aids for the following deficiencies:

. Ensure CO2 Cartridges have not been punctured and are secured firmly

. Ensure all zips, buckles, fasteners and webbing straps are functioning correctly and adjusted to fit the user

. Check that their lights, if fitted are operating correctly Ensure that Automatic Inflation devices if fitted are fully serviced and in date

. Check that the valve or lifejacket is not leaking by inflating the lifejacket overnight Discard any faulty lifejackets by destroying them

8. Holidaying abroad safely.


People holidaying abroad should note that swimming pools in holiday centres might only be partially lifeguarded or not guarded at all. Therefore extra precautions must be taken from the moment of arrival to the time of departure.

1. On arrival at a holiday centre, do not allow children to go immediately to the swimming pool until you have checked out the safety arrangements. There may not be any lifeguard on duty.

2. It is unwise to go for a quick swim after a lengthy car journey.

3. Never swim after consuming alcohol or food.

4. Obey all the usual safety rules that apply in any properly run pool e.g. no running, no running dives, no horseplay etc.

5. Be particularly careful of young children wandering off.

6. Check for pool depth markings. There may not be any.

7. Ensure that you do not dive into shallow water.

8. Watch out for children in baby pools that may be next to the main pool without any barrier between them.

9. Watch out for sudden drops or changes in the gradient of a pool floor.

10. Check for missing, uneven or slippery tiles surrounding or in the pool.

11. Do not swim in a pool containing discoloured water.

12. Always swim, or surf, in areas patrolled by lifeguards.

13. Swim in the designated swimming area when swimming in the sea.

14. Swim with family or friends - never alone or in the dark. Never bully others or make them take risks.

15. Swim within your depth and parallel to the shore.

Craft/Adventure Activity

1. Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and ask how to secure and inflate it.

2. Do not get on board if the craft appears overloaded or unstable.

3. Ask what safety measures are in place in the event of an accident. Do not partake if the answer is unsatisfactory.

4. Always wear protective headgear.

5. If you can't swim, don't partake.

6. If equipment on offer looks worn, don't use it.

7. Never go on the water alone.

8. Don't drink alcohol before going on the water in any craft.

9. If you feel that the equipment owners are not professional do not use the facilities.

10. If the person in charge of the craft looks inexperienced do not get on board.

11. Remember, any rough or white-water activity can be risky.

12. Don't take part in any water sport activity at night.

13. Never participate in adventure sport unless you have received training.



1. Before going afloat, for your own and your family's sake, you must have basic skills in seamanship.

2. Check the weather forecast before going afloat. Always ask for local knowledge of the area you intend to sail in.

3. Check the condition of all craft, be it on hire or on loan to you.

4. Ensure that safety equipment is provided for all on board.

5. Make sure you leave details of your planned trip with someone ashore.

6. Know your limitations. Always sail within your own ability and that of your crew.

7. Personal Flotation Devices (lifejackets and buoyancy aids) and safety harnesses are essential and should be provided for everyone on board.

8. Ensure that emergency and communication equipment is provided and is operating correctly and that you are trained and proficient in it's use.

9. Keep an eye on the weather and sea conditions. Seek shelter in good time.

10. Before going on your holiday, log onto for advice or LoCall Irish Water Safety at 1890420202.

9. Simple rules to follow when using a pool.
. Watch out in case there is no proper barrier between the kiddies pool and the main pool.
. When you first arrive, find out if there is a Lifeguard on duty.
. Watch out for sudden drops in the pool floor.
. Leave time after your meal before you go swimming.
. Beware of wet and slippery surfaces.
. Do not swim in water that looks discoloured or murky.
. Listen to the instructions of Pool Lifeguards.

10. Steps to Safe Swimming:

. Swim with others, never alone.
. Digest food before swimming.
. Never swim in the dark or when you are hot or tired.
. Avoid swimming in strange places.
. Never swim out after drifting objects.
. Don't stay in the water too long.
. Don't swim out to sea.
. Swim parallel and close to the shore.
. Obey Lifeguards and swim between the Lifeguard Flags.
. Never use inflatable toys.
. Pay attention to signs on the beach.
. Never bully others or make them take risks.
. Learn to use equipment before trying it out.
. Learn Basic Life Support.

For further information on water safety go to: or