Summer weather mood masks the dangers of drowning

Galway’s hot weather can lull people into a sense of security around beaches, rivers, and lakes, and increase the risk of drowning, according to Roger Sweeney of Irish Water Safety.

The organisation is warning people, especially parents with small children, to be cautious near water, if they are close to lakes, rivers, and beaches, or even back-yard inflatable pools.

According to Irish Water Safety, there is likely to be an upswing in water-related accidents in the summer months, especially incidents involving alcohol which account for a third of drowning deaths.

To illustrate the point, Sweeney stated that 559 people had to rescued by lifeguards from possible drowning nationwide in July of 2013 alone. Thirty three of those rescues took place in Galway. As well as this, there were 575 reported cases of lifeguards finding children lost and unattended near lakes and waterways, with 25 cases occuring in Galway.

According to the organisation, a large portion of the responsibility falls on to parents, with the danger children face of drowning being high. Special attention needs to be focused on chidren playing in back-yard inflatable pools, as accidents easily occur without any obvious indication. ‘‘Contrary to popular belief,’’ Sweeney commented, ‘‘drowning can be silent and deceptively quiet. It may not involve a lot of splashing and screaming,’’ leaving parents unaware of an accident that may occur only a few steps behind them.

Sweeney stresses that to prevent these accidents, ‘‘110 per cent supervision is needed. You wouldn’t let a child walk by a motorway unattended.’’ Those enjoying the summer weather near water are advised to swim at lifeguarded waterways, swim within their depth, ensure ringbuoys are present, and avoid alcohol until they have finished swimming.

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