Minister of State and Longford/Westmeath TD, Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran is urging the Athlone public and in particular parents with children to exercise caution when it comes to water as the country experiences a period of extremely hot weather.
‘The heatwave we are currently experiencing brings new dangers and I just want to urge everyone to have a safe time, particularly around water,’ Minister Moran said.
‘A settled period of warm weather brings everyone outdoors and swimming is among the most popular activities but, unfortunately, it brings danger also.
Parents, in particular, need to know where their children are if they are playing near water as drownings can happen very quickly,’ said Minister Moran.
Minister Moran said that according to the Irish Water Safety Council, the vast majority of drownings occur close to the victim’s home. “
‘Tragically the figures also reveal that young males are particularly at risk, reflected in the fact that 91 of the drowning victims in 2016 were male, with 45 of those accidental drownings in the 20-59 age category.
“It is a sobering thought that 30 children aged 14 and under have drowned in the last 10 years and the loss of a child is something that no parent will ever get over,” said Minister Moran.
‘Children and young teens naturally want to enjoy themselves in lakes and rivers but their parents need to know where they are and to ensure their safety at all times.
Children and teenagers love water and parents must be vigilant at all times to protect their children from the dangers of water by educating them and then supervising them at all times.
I have witnessed young children and young teens diving off places at Coosan Point and the River Shannon in Athlone and unfortunately their parents may not know that they are even there,’ added Minister Moran.
‘I would urge everyone who takes to the water this week to be careful and not to swim in areas where it is clearly dangerous to do so.
As the Irish Water Safety points out, the majority of drownings occur inland where river and lake beds can be difficult to see and therefore extremely difficult to determine if you are swimming within your depth. The onset of cramp, combined with the panicked realisation that you are out of your depth can have tragic consequences and be compounded further by the muscle cooling effect of longer periods in open water.
In 2015 there were 122 drownings compared to 165 deaths on the road. However there is far greater public awareness of road safety than of water safety,’ the Minister concluded.