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

Water Safety classes can take place at Level 1 & Level 2 only using a similar SOP to the sample SOP from Technical Committtee and following Government guidelines to teach information and procedures in the prevention of drowning.

Lifeguard training and revalidation should be run at all Levels 1-5 for these essential workers.

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.

Government Five Level Plan

Water Safety classes can take place at Level 1 & Level 2 only using a similar SOP to the sample SOP from Technical Committtee and following Government guidelines to teach information and procedures in the prevention of drowning.

Lifeguard training and revalidation should be run at all Levels 1-5 for these essential workers.

Online Safeguarding Training

On the 1st of July 2020, it was made mandatory for all members to complete the new Online Safeguarding Training prior to the commencement of Water Safety Activities.

NOTE: Water Safety Ireland members no longer need to be notified to commence this process and are directed to complete the training before returning to water safety activities.

Find out all about the new Safeguarding Training here.

Beach Lifeguard Local Authority Test Options for 2021 Season

Lifeguarding

Pool Lifeguards

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

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 time.

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

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

The 2020 WSI COVID-19 amended Exam version must be used for all National Pool Lifeguard Award Exams that are held up to this extended date.

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.

The Lifeguard Commission recommend the following guidelines

  • Level 1 (COVID-19 Plan):
    • Pool and Beach Lifeguard training and examinations can take place (under current WSI Lifeguard course COVID-19 guidelines).
    • Up to 100 people permitted indoors and up to 200 people outdoors.
  • Level 2 (COVID-19 Plan):
    • Pool and Beach Lifeguard Training and examinations can take place (under current WSI Lifeguard Course COVID-19 Guidelines).
    • Pods of 6 indoors, up to 50 people max.
    • Pods of 15 outdoors, up to 100 people max.
    • Contact should be avoided.
  • Level 3: (COVID-19 Plan)
    • Note: all the training and examinations listed below must take place under current Irish Government COVID-19 and WSI Lifeguard Course COVID-19 Guidelines.

Beach/IOW Lifeguard Courses

  • Training and Examinations can take place outdoors in pods of 15 only, with no contact.
  • BLS module – recognition of prior learning and in date qualifications. Indoor training may take place once HSE/Government COVID-19 guidelines are followed
  • Pool Module – can be run in Pools once HSE/Government COVID-19 guidelines are followed
    • The canbuoy rescue test item involving a subject would need to be performed at an outdoor pool/deep water swimming venue with stepped/safe access and egress. (Wetsuits may be used)
  • Pool module can also be run at outdoor pools/deep water swimming venues with stepped/safe access and egress. Wetsuits should be worn.
  • Open Water module can be run as normal under WSI Lifeguard Course and HSE/Government COVID-19 guidelines

Pool Lifeguard Courses:

  • BLS module – recognition of prior learning and in date qualifications. Indoor training may take place once Government COVID-19 guidelines are followed
  • Training and examination of Pool Lifeguards (Essential to the Industry) can be run at leisure facilities once all general HSE/Government COVID-19 Guidelines regarding Social distancing, PPE, Cleansing and disinfection of equipment are fully adhered to.
  • Training and examinations can also be run at outdoor pools/deep water swimming venues with stepped/safe access and egress. Wetsuits should be worn. Max 15 people

Facility employed Pool Lifeguards

Facility employed Pool Lifeguards who need to revalidate or employed facility staff that need to qualify as Pool lifeguards (essential in Levels1 – 3).

Once Pools are open, these employed Lifeguards need to be able to revalidate their essential skills/qualification in order to remain in employment as Lifeguards and for the ongoing health and safety of the general public using the facilities.

There may also be the need to qualify other facility employed staff (Swim Teachers, Gym Instructors, etc.) as Pool Lifeguards in order to to provide cover for other Lifeguards who may not be able work during COVID-19 period or who are off work self-isolating.

  • No public allowed in venue at time of training/examination
  • This essential training and examining may only take place at the leisure facility once all general HSE/Government COVID-19 Guidelines regarding Social distancing, PPE, Cleansing and disinfection of equipment are fully adhered to
  • Levels 4 & 5: (COVID-19 Plan)
    • Note: all the training and examinations listed below must take place under current Irish Government COVID-19 and WSI Lifeguard Course COVID-19 Guidelines.

Beach/IOW Lifeguard Courses

  • Essential Training and Examinations can take place outdoors with no physical contact.
  • BLS module – recognition of prior learning and in date qualifications. Indoor training may take place once HSE/Government COVID-19 guidelines are followed
  • Pool module can be run at outdoor pools/deep water swimming venues with stepped/safe access and egress. Wetsuits should be worn.
  • Open Water module can be run as normal under WSI Lifeguard Course and HSE/Government COVID-19 guidelines

Pool Lifeguard Courses:

Pools and Leisure Centre Facilities are closed to the public

Facility employed Pool Lifeguards

Facility employed Pool Lifeguards who need to revalidate or employed facility staff that need to qualify as Pool lifeguards (essential in Levels 1-3).

Once Pools are accessible to Staff, these employed Lifeguards need to be able to revalidate their essential skills/qualification in order to remain in employment as Lifeguards and for the ongoing health and safety of the general public using the facilities.

There may also be the need to qualify other facility employed staff (Swim Teachers, Gym Instructors, etc.) as Pool Lifeguards in order to to provide cover for other Lifeguards who may not be able work during COVID-19 period or who are off work self-isolating.

  • No public allowed in venue at time of training/examination
  • This essential training and examining may only take place at the leisure facility once all general HSE/Government COVID-19 Guidelines regarding Social distancing, PPE, Cleansing and disinfection of equipment are fully adhered to.

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

Water Safety Ireland has published it’s Returning To Water Safely plan, in line with the phased approach of the government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020 – 2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19. The plan outlines the water safety activities that can take place, aligned to the five stages of the government’s national strategy. Details of the Returning To Water Safely plan can be found here.

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.

Following on from our chairpersons letter in relation to the summer programs of lifesaving skills training and classes, the sports commission would like to update you on some of the implications for lifesaving sport here in Ireland for the remainder of 2020 as a result of Covid-19 and a review of the Government’s Plan and guidelines.

Competitions

Water Safety Ireland will not hold any further lifesaving sport competitions for any age group for the remainder of 2020, therefore the planned regional & national open water competitions are now cancelled.

Lifesaving Sport Training

After reviewing the Government Road plan for Reopening Society & Business it has been decided that:

There will be no Water Safety Ireland, sanctioned lifesaving sport training or use of Water Safety Area Committee (or lifesaving training centers) sports equipment for any nipper groups (8yr – 14yr) for the remainder of the year.

The Returning To Water Safely plan recommends the following guidelines for senior lifesaving sport training in Level 3, 4 and 5 of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020 – 2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19. Please consult the plan for further information.

  • Personal Training + Craft only – No WSAC equipment / facilities to be used.
  • Clear protocols finalised, agreed and adhered to by coaches, athletes & lifeguards.
  • If training on a personal basis, have all risks been reasonably mitigated and all necessary precautions been taken?
  • Avoid sharing equipment.
  • Travel only with those persons in your household.
  • Follow Government and HSE Guidelines – Social Distancing + Hygiene

National Squads

Due to the cancellation of the summer National competitions, the current 2020 National Squad will be extended for an additional year. Athletes who excelled in the 2020 National Stillwater Championships may be offered places onto the current squad later in the year. The composition of Regional squads will be reviewed later in the year and we will advise on this then. There will be no further Regional or National squad camps for the rest of 2020.

These decisions have been very difficult to make but the health and safety of all competitors, coaches, officials and parents must take precedence at this time.

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

  • 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.

Members

Swimming Pool Safety

  • As part of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020 – 2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19, gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can open in Levels 1 and 2, with protective measures which take account of public health advice, including social distancing etc. In Level 3, gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can open with protective measures but only for individual training. Finally, in Levels 4 and 5 gyms, leisure centres and pools are instructed to close.

COVID-19 Is Here

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