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

Returning To Water Safely

Water Safety Ireland group courses and classes are postponed for the immediate future. This will remain the case while Ireland is in Levels 3, 4 or 5 of the Government’s National Framework for living with Covid-19. Some online activities are permitted during this period – please see page 10 and 11 of our Returning To Water Safely plan for further details.

Group courses and classes can resume and take place in Level 1 and Level 2 only. 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

Yes; group classes and courses can now only take place in areas of Ireland which are designated at Levels 1 and 2. Counties categorised in Levels 3, 4 and 5 are instructed to cancel all classes until the public health advice changes.

The Resilience and Recovery 2020 – 2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19, details five possible levels of activity throughout society and business which aims to stop the spread of Covid-19.

As part of the plan, 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.

For those counties in Levels 1 and 2 who can conduct Water Safety classes, please continue to refer to the following information.

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.

Lifeguarding

  • All Pool Lifeguards whose qualifications expire during this current “COVID-19 lockdown” period will be given a once off extension to their WSI National Pool Lifeguard Qualification which will extend up to the end of December 2020.
  • All WSI Beach Lifeguards whose qualifications expire and need to be re-validated during the COVID-19 restrictions will be given a once off extension to their WSI National Beach Lifeguard Qualification which will extend up to the end of September 2020.

Unfortunately, conducting the beach lifeguard test at this time would be in contradiction with the government’s national guidelines for reopening society and business. However, this is currently under review and it is hoped Beach Lifeguard Examinations will be able to take place after July 20th (Phase 4 of the national guidelines), adhering to the government’s roadmap. Please check this page regularly and stay in touch with your local Water Safety Area Committee for up to date information.

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 Return to 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 Return to Work Safely Protocol, and implement them in their daily behaviours and actions.

Download the Return to Water 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/open-water-swimming-final-231219/
  • 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 Covid19 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.

Only when Phase 4 of the Government Road plan for Reopening Society & Business is enacted, currently planned for July 20th, can lifesaving sport training and use of Water Safety Area Committee (or lifesaving training centers) sports equipment for Juniors, Seniors, & Masters take place STRICTLY within HSE guidelines, and following the protocols that will be issued by Water Safety Ireland Sports Commission in advance of this phase. Before any lifesaving sport training can take place at this stage a written plan of how the protocols will be implemented must be submitted to the sports commission for approval by the area committee.

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

  • Unfortunately, due to current guidance around social distancing and in the interest of public health, the Examiner’s Conference will not go ahead.

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.