The picture-postcard scenes at venues abroad can often mask hidden dangers. People who travel outside of Ireland on their holidays must be aware of the fact that swimming pools in holiday centres, whether indoor or outdoor, may be only partially lifeguarded or not guarded at all.
Consequently, extra precautions must be taken from the moment of arrival at the holiday center to the time of departure.
The following points should be noted in particular:
1. On arrival at a holiday centre, which has a swimming pool, do not allow children to go immediately to the swimming pool until you have checked out the safety arrangements. On many occasions 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 so you must check the depths yourself if you are a competent swimmer.
7. Ensure that you do not dive into shallow water.
8. Watch out for children/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 or do not allow children to swim in a pool with discoloured water.
12. Always swim, or surf, in areas patrolled by lifeguards.
13. Swim in the designated swimming area when swimming in the sea. Normally, the red and yellow flags indicate the zoned area for swimming.
14. Swim with family or friends - never alone.
15. Swim within your depth and parallel to the shore.
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 that you have not received training in.
BEFORE GOING AFLOAT...
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.
9. Keep an eye on the weather and sea conditions. Seek shelter in good time.
10. Before going on your holiday, log onto www.iws.ie for advice or LoCall Irish Water Safety at 1890420202.
Many of you will already know how to swim but will lack the skills of rescue, resuscitation and survival. We would encourage everyone to learn these skills. Details available at www.iws.ie.
An analysis of the accidental drowning statistics indicate that the critical factors are a lack of awareness of the dangers water presents, the absence of water survival and rescue skills and of course the ability to swim. The season ahead will again see many people taking to water based activities. The importance of wearing a lifejacket cannot be stressed enough. We will see a reduction in the number of drownings when we see a rise in the number of people wearing one.
In particular regard to lifejackets, the following checklist should be used:
Visually Check all lifejackets and buoyancy aids for the following deficiencies:
Ensure CO2 Cartridges have not been punctured
Ensure all zips, buckles, fasteners and webbing straps are functioning correctly
Check that their lights, if fitted are operating correctly
Check that the valve or lifejacket is not leaking by inflating the lifejacket overnight or immersing it in water checking for air bubbles
Discard any faulty lifejackets by destroying them
Drowning tragedies bring enormous grief which is terribly sad and serves as another reminder on the dangers waters represent and the respect that we all should have for it.