As we head into the busiest holiday weekend of the year, Michael Gavin, Mayo County Council’s water safety officer, is advising everyone to take personal responsibility for their own safety while in or near water.
He warned that 13 people drowned accidentally in Ireland over a two week period in July last year. Already in July this year there have been four similar drownings. All of these drownings could have been avoided by taking the best water safety advice.
Mr Gavin has a special warning for different groups who will be using the water this weekend, for teenagers and young adults. “You are the people most at risk of drowning, if you take the risk, you could become the next drowning statistic. Know what you are getting into, only swim in safe familiar locations, preferably where there are lifeguards.”
For parents of young children Mr Gavin warned: “Forty children have drowned in Ireland in the last 10 years. Keep your eyes on your children at all times when they are in or near the water.” For all boating enthusiasts the water safety officer warned: “Always wear lifejackets when on your watercraft, it makes good sense. Slow down, keep a safe distance and respect the presence of other water users.”
The safest places to swim and enjoy water based activities are at lifeguard locations. The lifeguarded areas in Mayo are in the Westport/Newport area at Bertra, Old Head, Carramore (Louisburgh ), Carrowniskey, Mulranny. On Achill Island there are lifeguarded beaches in Keel, Keem and Silver Strand. While in north Mayo you will find lifeguarded beaches in Dugort (Ross ), Killala Tidal Pool, and at Shore Road in Belmullet
The Environmental Protection Agency has also reminded the public to use Splash, the national bathing water information website at splash.epa.ie which will provide Mayo residents with up-to-date information on water quality.
The Splash website has an interactive, colour-coded, map that allows people to check water quality at any of the 136 designated bathing waters. Before deciding on the best place to swim, you can find the latest reported water quality, and check if there is any bathing water warning or notification in place at your chosen location. Peter Webster, EPA senior scientist, commented: “With people in Mayo enjoying the current spell of good weather the EPA wants to remind them that Splash can help families, holiday makers, and bathers in Mayo by providing up to date information on identified bathing waters and the latest water quality at their local beaches. As a precaution we don’t advise swimming after heavy rain, if the water is discoloured, or if the local authority has a pollution notice in place.”