The coastguard service and Irish Water Safety are warning swimmers to take extra care in the water this bank holiday weekend following an increase in the number of accidents at sea.

The RNLI in Ireland has also said it has been receiving more calls to help children being blown out to sea on inflatable toys which were not suitable for use in Irish waters.

Yesterday a coastguard helicopter and three lifeboats were involved in a series of rescues on the south and west coast.

Seven swimmers were rescued after getting into difficulty in Kilkee in Co Clare and Derrynane in Co Kerry.

Also, three crewmembers of a yacht which later capsized in Derrynane Bay were taken ashore by the local lifeboat.

Other rescue operations were mounted in Galway Bay, Valentia and Courtmacsherry in Co Cork where fishing vessels and boats capsized or went adrift.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Seascapes last night, Irish Water Safety Chief Executive John Leech said that while there were encouraging signs that deaths from swimming accidents were dropping, there was no room for complacency.

In another development, a powerboat club affiliated to the Irish Sailing Association has set up a website which features advice aimed at new boaters.

Forums on the site, www.powerboat.ie, offer advice from safety instructors and experienced water sport enthusiasts.