Mayo County Council's water safety officer has highlighted some startling drowning statistics this week as part of an appeal to encourage people to stay safe in and around water as the busiest holiday weekend of the year gets underway.
Michael Gavin said this week that everyone has to take personal responsibility for their own safety while in or near water.
"On average, 11 people drown every month in Ireland," he stated. "Most of these drownings could have been avoided by taking water safety advice and training."
"Teenagers and young adults are the people most at risk of drowning," he continued.
"If you take the risk, you could become the next drowning statistic."
Mr Gavin urged people to "know what you are getting into, only swim in safe familiar locations, and preferably where there are lifeguards."
Mr Gavin said that alcohol was a contributory factor in a shocking 32 per cent of accidental drownings in water in Ireland.
"Never, ever, drink and dive, or swim, or surf, or sail, or engage in any water based activity," he said. "Enjoy the water, but don’t play with your life."
The water safety officer appealed to parents in particular to stay vigilant around water.
"Parents should keep their eyes on their children at all times when they are in or near the water," he said.
"Forty children have drowned in Ireland in the last 10 years."
For those using watercraft, he advised them to always wear a life jacket, slow down, keep a safe distance and respect the presence of other water users.
He also advised all watercraft users to visit www.safetyzone.ie, the "one-stop-shop for all water safety and watercraft training."
Finally he reminded everyone that the safest place to swim and enjoy the water this weekend is at a life guarded beach in the county.
Those beaches include Bertra, Westport; Old Head, Carramore and Carrowniskey in Louisburgh; Mulranny beach, Keel, Keem, Silver Strand and Dugort in Achill; Ross in Killala and the tidal pool in Belmullet.