COVID-19 Information Hub

Water Safety during Covid – 19

Your Frequently Asked Questions Answered

This page will be updated as the situation unfolds so please check back regularly

Update Regarding Essential Water Safety Services and Classes

Following consultation with An Garda Síochána, Water Safety Ireland wishes to inform all members of the Water Safety services currently deemed essential under public health legislation.

WSI personnel may revalidate and train up new Beach & River lifeguards, which will enable our organisation to have sufficient lifeguards for Local Authorities to employ and deploy on our beaches, rivers and lakes for the 2021 bathing season. The Gardaí have interpreted the beach and river lifeguard service as an essential service to the state and that these lifeguards are essential workers.

It will be a matter for local Gardaí to investigate any possible breaches under Regulation 11 of SI No: 701 0f 2020. If our classes are not in support of an essential service and the participants are not essential workers, then it is a “training event” and is in breach of Regulation 11 of SI No: 701 0f 2020.

A pool lifeguard is not an essential service at this time and these premises should be closed until restrictions are lifted.

WSI appreciates your understanding and co-operation on this matter.

Returning To Water Safely

CLASSES, TRAINING & REVALIDATION ALLOWED UNDER CURRENT GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES

  • NOW – Beach Lifeguard training and revalidation are allowed at present.
  • NOW – Surf Instructor beach safety awards and revalidation can take place.
  • NOW – Pool Lifeguard courses and Pool Lifeguard Revalidation courses can be run in swimming pools where management permit, behind closed doors.
  • NOW – Sport of Lifesaving training (Nippers, Juniors, Seniors, Masters – must have permission from Sport’s Commission).
  • JUNE – Summer Week classes can resume this summer. Further information will be issued soon.

All the above must be run following COVID-19 Government Guidelines.

In advance of any resumption and in line with current public health advice, there a number of new Covid-19 procedures which need to be completed by members, volunteers and participants. There are also a number of new procedures specifically related to Water Safety Area Committees. Please familiarise yourself with the information that applies to you.

Members, Volunteers and Participants

While we are delighted to welcome you back to our courses, there are a number of new procedures put in place consistent with best practice public health guidelines, which aim to ensure our volunteers and participants get the chance to teach and learn in the safest environment possible.

E-Course

1) All members engaging in Water Safety activities are required to complete Sport Ireland’s Covid-19: Return To Sport E-course in advance of the resumption of activities. It is mandatory for all members intending to engage in water safety activities to undertake the course prior to attending classes, including instructors and participants alike. The good news is that the e-course does not take long to complete. Topics covered include hygiene, group participation and other public health advice. Access to the e-course is available on the Sport Ireland website here.

NOTE: Under 18s do not need to complete the E-course.

Enrolment

2) Participants will be obliged to fill out our Supplementary Covid-19 Participant Enrolment Form prior to the commencement of activities. This is to be filled out in addition to the usual enrolment forms used by Water Safety Area Committees and only needs to be completed once. The form contains a series of 6 yes/no questions which will ultimately help prevent the spread of Covid-19 at our courses.
3) All volunteers must complete the Volunteer Return To Water Safety Form, which is similar to the Supplementary Covid-19 Participant Enrolment Form, but is for specific use by our fantastic volunteers such as instructors and teachers.

Attendance and Contact Tracing

4) Upon arrival at the Water Safety activity/class, all participants will be asked to provide relevant contact information to the facilitator/chaperone for the purposes of filling out the Contract Tracing Record Attendance At WSI Activities form. This form does not take long to complete. Participants will be required to provide some basic contact details, which will be used in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19. Attendees will also be asked to verbally declare they do not have Covid-19 symptoms, that they are not self-isolating or awaiting results of a Covid-19 test, and that they will agree to absent themselves from WSI activities should either of these circumstances change.

Summary

In summary, participants must complete items 1, 2 and 4. Volunteers like instructors and teachers must complete items 1 and 3, while also providing guidance to participants where necessary to complete items 2 and 4.

Water Safety Area Committees

WSAC Covid Officer

All WSACs planning to return to Water Safety must appoint a Covid Officer/s who must complete Sport Ireland’s Covid-19: Return To Sport E-course in advance of the resumption of activities with the addition of the specific Covid Officer course. Access to the Covid Officer e-course is available also on the Sport Ireland website here. Covid Officers must complete the second part
of this training, which is specific to Covid Officers. Covid Officers will be tasked with:

  • Planning the recommencement of Water Safety in co-operation with the WSAC and Facility Management, Local Authorities, or relevant party.
  • Ensure they review these protocols in detail and that the WSAC can comply before commencing activities.
  • Ensure all members and parents are fully aware of and adhere to HSE/Public Health advice.
  • Ensure that sufficient HSE Covid-19 information posters are in place in any buildings/storage used.
  • Ensure there is hand sanitiser & disinfectant spray available at all times.
  • Ensure that Government PPE recommendations are followed. It is recommended that all teaching volunteers wear face masks.
  • Ensure that all forms are filled out correctly and accurately prior to commencing activities.
  • If informed of any possible contact during a session of a person suspected or positively diagnosed with Covid-19, to work with the HSE and course facilitator to provide all the details required for contact tracing.

Transition syllabi designed to address the challenges of Covid-19
Water Safety Ireland have updated syllabi to align with public health guidelines. Water Safety Area Committees have received a new and revised Lifesaving Awards Syllabus 2020. WSACs must deliver courses in line with the transition syllabi designed to address the challenges of Covid-19.

Modifications to Lifeguard Awards Syllabi have also been published. This is to be applied in conjunction with the existing Beach Lifeguard Syllabus and Pool Lifeguard Syllabus.

Please note: As these are interim syllabi to address the challenges of Covid-19, printed copies will not be available.

Course Providers

No, several changes have been made to the course syllabi for 2020. Water Safety Ireland have introduced the revised Lifesaving Award Syllabus 2020 (Transition Syllabi designed to address the challenges of Covid-19).

We have also released Modifications to Lifeguard Awards Syllabi, which is to be applied in conjunction with the existing Beach Lifeguard Syllabus and Pool Lifeguard Syllabus.

The Modifications to Junior Lifeguard Award Syllabi should be applied in conjunction with the existing Junior Lifeguard syllabus.

Please note: As these are interim syllabi to address the challenges of Covid-19, printed copies will not be available.

Summer Week Classes

Update: May 5th, 2021

Water Safety Ireland can confirm Summer Weeks swimming classes will be held this year. Water Safety Area Committees are directed to start preparations and plan the classes in line with Government guidelines.

Water Safety Area Committees are invited to familiarise themselves with a letter from our CEO outlining the decision, as well as a SOP on running Summer Week classes.

Details about specific dates, venues, times etc. will be finalised in due course by local Water Safety Area Committees. Those interested in registering for classes will receive further updates in the coming weeks about how to contact their local WSAC.

Lifesaving Sport

Further to the recent update to government guidelines around sport, the Sports Commission have reviewed our Return To Sport Policy from last year and made the necessary updates. The WSI technical committee have passed this updated version and we can now allow training to resume after 10th May within these protocols. In particular please note pod sizes, and the non-use of water safety buildings or equipment for the time being. A further review on allowing the use of water safety buildings and equipment will be carried out in June following the next Government announcement.

We ask each committee to review the attached document with care and ensure all coaches, members and parents are aware of their roles and responsibilities with regard to the return of training in each training centre. Any county wishing to resume training must forward an NOP/SOP to the sports commission to review and upon receiving clearance in writing from the sports commission your training can only resume then. For counties with more than one training centre, the NOP must be for the county and encompass each training centre, the commission will not accept different NOPs from each training centre separately.

The NOP must contain
• The name of the County safety officer & any assistants if more than one training centre & contact details.
• Location and times for all planned training sessions
• Number of Pods planned for sessions and distance between each pods zone
• The names of all personnel who will be involved in the training sessions planned. Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Co-ordinator, Sport officer, etc.
• Procedures on the training sessions to align with protocols, set up, arrival of athletes, during the session, tidy down, leaving the session.

Whilst the return to training is very positive and great for the sport, the Commission would implore all counties to continue to follow any government guidelines and ensure all those involved in the sport are continually following all the protocols set down and to immediately stop any sessions if it is felt the protocols are not being followed. As an outdoor sport all activities are open to scrutiny from the public and we would not like the sport to bring any negative coverage for water safety due to actions of a few.

We would also advise that you take into account current weather & water temps when organising your initial training sessions as for some counties this will be earlier than normal.

(adapted from a statement from Water Safety Ireland’s – Sport Commission )

Beach Lifeguard Local Authority Test Options for 2021 Season

Lifeguarding

Pool Lifeguards

As Pools and Leisure Centres will not be opening until June 7th 2021, Water Safety Ireland has extended their WSI National Pool Lifeguard Award Validity date up to the end of August 2021. This will be the final extension of Validity in this COVID-19 period.

This extension of validity is for all WSI National Pool Lifeguards whose qualifications have expired since the start of the COVID-19 period last March 2020 and who need to revalidate their award at this present time.

All Pool Lifeguards who avail of this extension must revalidate their awards before the end of August 2021. After that date the full course will need to be repeated.

They must also familiarise themselves with the Lifeguard Basic Life Support BVM on-line training available here.

The 2020 WSI COVID-19 amended Exam versions must be used for all National Pool Lifeguard Award Exams until further notice.

Beach and River Lifeguards

WSI Technical Committee has made the following recommendation as of 04/02/2021 – Notice Regarding Beach Lifeguard Award Validity 2021

Due to the uncertainty with regard to the ongoing COViD-19 pandemic, Water Safety Ireland has further extended their WSI National Beach Lifeguard Award Validity date up to the end of June 2021.

This extension of validity is for all WSI National Beach Lifeguards whose qualifications have expired since the start of the COVID-19 period last March 2020 and who need to revalidate their award at this time.

Water Safety Ireland hopes that this extension will enable our Lifeguards to apply to the Local Authorities for employment as Beach Lifeguards on our Beaches and Inland Open Water Areas for this coming 2021 season.

All Beach Lifeguards who avail of this extension must revalidate their awards before the end of June 2021.

They must also familiarise themselves with the Lifeguard BVM on-line training available here.

The 2020 WSI COVID-19 amended versions of Lifeguard Exams must be used up to this extended date.

The above statement also holds for WSI National Inland Open Water Lifeguards.

CLASSES, TRAINING & REVALIDATION ALLOWED UNDER CURRENT GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES

  • NOW – Beach Lifeguard training and revalidation are allowed at present.
  • FROM 10th MAY – Pool Lifeguard courses and Pool Lifeguard Revalidation courses can be run in swimming pools where management permit, behind closed doors.

Lifeguard training and revalidation should be run at all Levels 1 – 5 for essential workers, like beach Lifeguards. Please contact your local Water Safety Area Committee for further details.

Lifeguarding Procedures & Resources

Conduct the rescue as normal (following NOP’s and SOP’s) but adhere to these guidelines on CPR: European Resuscitation Council COVID-19 Guidelines

Changes To Our Activities

The government has published the national Work Safely Protocol for Employers and Workers. This document highlights a collaborative approach for the prevention and detection of Covid-19, whereby employers and employees have a shared responsibility and defined expectations. Water Safety Ireland strongly recommends that those engaged in aquatic activities familiarise themselves with the guidelines in the Work Safely Protocol, and implement them in their daily behaviours and actions.

Download the Work Safely Protocol

  • No, aquatic activities are not banned but you must act responsibly because if you get into trouble in water you may require the help of other people which may put them at risk of contracting Covid-19. As restrictions are reduced or implemented in line with Government’s National Framework for Living with Covid-19, people will have varying degrees of access to all of our wonderful aquatic environments. However you have a responsibility to yourself and your family to practice safe behaviour in, on and around water. Please read the following advice before going to any waterway.
  • Swimmers must adhere to the guidelines of the HSE and of Government on social distancing.
  • Swimmers should swim parallel and close to the shore and be aware that water temperature is still too cold for extended swims (11°C coastal, 14°C inland). Wear a wetsuit and “Swim within your depth and stay within your depth”. See additional guidelines at https://watersafety.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Open-Water-Swimming-Final-01122020.pdf
  • Children require constant uninterrupted supervision near water. Before you go for your swim, please take your children through the online resources at teachpaws.ie so that they enjoy their aquatic activities safely.
  • Alcohol should be avoided before or during any aquatic activity as it can result in people overestimating their ability and underestimating the risk.
  • Always wear a lifejacket when on or near water and when angling from shore. Ensure that it is properly maintained and that it has a correctly fitted crotch strap.
  • Those going afloat should carry a portable Marine VHF and/or a personal locator beacon and walkers should carry a mobile phone to call 112 in an emergency.
  • In an emergency call 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. Always call early.
  • Yes! You can bring your children through a range of activities, puzzles, games and exercises that will give them lots of tips on how to stay safe when they eventually enjoy our wonderful waterways. Go to www.teachpaws.ie.

Swimming Pool Safety

  • From June 7th, gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres can reopen for individual training only. This does not affect other Water Safety Ireland activities which are currently running or due to resume before that date. For more, see our ‘CLASSES, TRAINING & REVALIDATION ALLOWED UNDER CURRENT GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES’ section above.

COVID-19 Is Here

For information about a host of volunteers services, see our dedicated community supports.