Safety on the Water

Safety on the Water

Irish Sailing partner with water safety organisations in pre-season push to reduce incidents on coasts and waterways

With a second summer of Covid restrictions ahead, Ireland’s coasts and waterways are certain to be busy so Irish Sailing along with Water Safety Ireland and the RNLI are calling for greater awareness to avoid serious incidents in the months ahead.

Based on actual reports from 2020 when fine weather and the ban on foreign travel saw more people than ever enjoying watersports and coastal activities, the risk of serious injury or even death is too great ignore.

Seemingly safe activities such as a walk on a beach or a quick dip present surprising dangers.  The variety of watercraft available offer great fun but inexperience and lack of training can lead to tragic outcomes or simply add to pressure on emergency services.

Water Safety Ireland wants to encourage people taking part in open water swimming to get a copy of its online guides that have handy tips about enjoying our waterways safely.  “This is a healthy activity that has become popular inland and around our coast,” said Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO Water Safety Ireland.  “But our lakes and rivers can be especially cold, even on apparently warm days and fatigue can set in quickly.”

Swimming is also a theme highlighted by the RNLI lifeboat service that recently teamed up with Swim Ireland to promote safety awareness for Open Water swimming.  Since the start of the pandemic, call-outs for swimmers in difficulty have soared though many incidents are preventable.  Tips such as checking weather forecast, local knowledge and planning exit from the water are essential.

“Walking along the coast is also an enjoyable way of getting out in the fresh air,”  says Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead.  “But in some places there is a danger of being cut off by a rising tide which could block your way back to shore.  Always check the times of the tide beforehand and allow plenty of time to get back to shore.”

For all water users, always carry a means of raising the alarm and if you do get into trouble or you see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard is the standard advice from all safety organisations.

More time spent at home in Ireland and local restrictions have led many people to discover new sports and activities.  Training is both an enjoyable and essential part of getting involved.

“It can only take one bad experience to turn someone off a sport,” commented Dave Garvey, Training Development Officer with Irish Sailing.  “Good quality training at any stage can really help get the most from your sport as well as keeping you safe and getting the best value from your time on the water.”  Irish Sailing has over 100 training centres around the country offering courses in sailing and windsurfing as well as powerboating and other specialised instruction”.

To find out more go to 

If you see somebody in trouble on the water
or along the coast or if you think they are in trouble,
Dial 112 or use Channel 16 Marine VHF and ask for the Coast Guard.

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