Advice & Precautions

Many of our nation’s most beloved, popular and common activities take place on / around water throughout the year. However, there are associated risks so it is important to know the do’s and don’ts around water. Helpful advice should always be considered and easy to follow precautions can be taken prior to getting involved with Ireland’s aquatic environments. Likewise, there are actions one can take should they find themselves in trouble or difficult situations.

Pool Safety

We all like an opportunity to get into the swimming pool when possible. With our changeable weather it’s the ideal place to stretch our aquatics muscles. However, you should always follow these tips for a safe experience. If you do, you will avoid any nasty accidents and injuries.

  • An adult should always supervise playtime in paddling pools.
  • Be careful not to dive into shallow water – check to see how deep the pool is.
  • If you are with younger children, watch out for them at all times.
  • Obey all pool safety rules such as no running, no dives, no horseplay.
  • Remember to check for others before entering the water.
  • Watch out in case there is no proper barrier between the kids pool and the main pool.
  • Find out if there is a Lifeguard on duty and listen to their instructions.
  • Watch out for sudden drops in the pool floor.
  • Beware of wet and slippery surfaces.
See our comprehensive guidelines

River, Lakes and Inland Safety

  • Beware of submerged objects. Always enter the water feet first
  • Cold water in lakes can be dangerous – it is often much colder beneath the surface than you think
  • Do not play near the edge of riverbanks – they can crumble away suddenly
  • Do not retrieve model boats by wading in
  • Never walk on ice covered waterways
  • Reeds and grass often obscure the edge of the pond
  • The banks of a pond may be weak and give way under your weight
  • When angling always make sure an adult is with you

Land Owner Safety

The first consideration in a strategy for accident prevention is always to try to remove, or separate, the public from the hazard. At sites such as water treatment plant, where only authorized visitors are permitted, complete restrictions are necessary. However, at many inland water sites, it would be neither practical, reasonable nor desirable to attempt to prevent drowning by denying access to water, or by providing supervision along every waters edge.

Pond Safety

Water holds a particular fascination for young children under the age of five. Whether the water is held in a garden pond, a rainwater butt, a paddling pool or a bucket, a young child will invariable investigate.
Due to this natural inquisitiveness, 111 children under the age of five have drowned during the last decade, within the space of a few minutes of the supervising adult being momentarily distracted.

Ice Cover on Inland Water Sites

Every year during the winter incidents occur where members of the public go through the ice on frozen areas of inland water, often with tragic consequences. In response to this all water operators and those with responsibility for water sites should develop a strategy for managing the problem of ice. This strategy should identify those at risk, usually children playing on ice, but commonly also adults attempting to rescue others in danger. There have been many instances of people getting into difficulty attempting to rescue dogs.

Weil’s Disease

Water Safety Ireland and Friendly Systems – promoting water safety by combatting Weils Disease

IWS has in the past issued advice through various media about the dangers of Weils disease, which is an acute infectious disease spread by infected wild and domestic animals. Because the bacteria thrived in wet and moist conditions, all swimmers should aware about this infection.

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Ice Cover on Inland Waters
Information About Weil’s Disease

Land Owner Safety

The first consideration in a strategy for accident prevention is always to try to remove, or separate, the public from the hazard. At sites such as water treatment plant, where only authorized visitors are permitted, complete restrictions are necessary. However, at many inland water sites, it would be neither practical, reasonable nor desirable to attempt to prevent drowning by denying access to water, or by providing supervision along every waters edge.

Read More

Pond Safety

Water holds a particular fascination for young children under the age of five. Whether the water is held in a garden pond, a rainwater butt, a paddling pool or a bucket, a young child will invariable investigate.
Due to this natural inquisitiveness, 111 children under the age of five have drowned during the last decade, within the space of a few minutes of the supervising adult being momentarily distracted.

Read More

Ice Cover on Inland Water Sites

Every year during the winter incidents occur where members of the public go through the ice on frozen areas of inland water, often with tragic consequences. In response to this all water operators and those with responsibility for water sites should develop a strategy for managing the problem of ice. This strategy should identify those at risk, usually children playing on ice, but commonly also adults attempting to rescue others in danger. There have been many instances of people getting into difficulty attempting to rescue dogs.

Ice Cover on Inland Waters

Weil’s Disease

Water Safety Ireland and Friendly Systems – promoting water safety by combatting Weils Disease

IWS has in the past issued advice through various media about the dangers of Weils disease, which is an acute infectious disease spread by infected wild and domestic animals. Because the bacteria thrived in wet and moist conditions, all swimmers should aware about this infection.

Information About Weil’s Disease

Coastal Walking

There is nothing quite like walking to get you away from all the hustle and bustle. Fresh air, open surroundings and exhilarating views! Plus, it’s a great form of exercise to keep healthy and improve your fitness.

Walking close to water along Ireland’s shores presents its own challenges and should never be underestimated. If you intend to walk on your own or as part of a walking group, we can all take steps to stay safe. Follow our handy tips for both inexperienced and advanced walkers and you will be set to go.

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Beach Safety

For most people summer means days at beach, enjoying the sun and sand. By following very easy tips, you can have a safe and happy time at beach

  • Learn to swim
  • Swim near a lifeguard
  • Swim with a buddy
  • Check with the lifeguards
  • Use sunscreen and drink water
  • Obey posted signs and flags
  • Keep the beach and water clean
  • Learn rip current safety
  • Enter water feet first
  • Wear a life jacket
Beach safety report

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Jellyfish

Jellyfish or jellies are soft bodied, free-swimming aquatic animals with a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles. It’s the tentacles that sting. Jellyfish sting their prey with them, releasing a venom that paralyzes their targets. Jellyfish don’t go after humans, but someone who swims up against or touches one — or even steps on a dead one — can be stung all the same.

While jellyfish stings are painful, most are not emergencies. Expect pain, red marks, itching, numbness, or tingling with a typical sting.

HOW TO TREAT A JELLYFISH STING
Jellyfish ID Card

Holidaying Abroad

The picture-postcard scenes at venues abroad can often mask hidden dangers. People who travel outside of Ireland on their holidays must be aware of the fact that swimming pools in holiday centres, whether indoor or outdoor, may be only partially lifeguarded or not guarded at all.

Consequently, extra precautions must be taken from the moment of arrival at the holiday center to the time of departure.

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Respect Seals

Seals have been protected in Ireland for 30 years following the introduction of the 1976 Wildlife Act.

Water Safety Ireland (IWS) in cooperation with the Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS) want the public to enjoy our seal population but are cautioning the public to respect seals by adhering to the following guidelines in the interests of safety and the protection of our seals. On foot of public feedback and the experience of the ISS we have noted changes in seal behaviour and growing interaction between seals and humans.

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Rip Current Safety

As waves travel from deep to shallow water, they will break near the shoreline. When waves break strongly in some locations and weakly in others, this can cause circulation cells which are seen as rip currents: narrow, fast-moving belts of water traveling offshore.

Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beachgoers. They are particularly dangerous for weak or non-swimmers. Rip current speeds are typically 1-2 Kmph. However, speeds as high as 8 Kmph have been measured. Thus, rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.
Rip currents can occur at any surf beach with breaking waves.

More Information

Safe Swimming Tips

Swimming is a lot of fun, but drowning is a real danger. Even kids who know how to swim can drown, so let’s find out how to stay safe in the water. First learn swimming then try it and if you are at early stage of learning, use a floating device. Alway go swimming with a buddy and check the depth and the temperature of the water. Never chew gum or eat while you are swimming. Do not swim in the dark and stop swimming as soon as you see or hear storm. Do not swallow the water and have shower after swimming. Do not push or jump into the water. And always check the signs and be sure lifeguards are close.

14 Steps to Safe and Enjoyable Swimming
Know Your Flags

Venomous Weever Fish

Swimmers, surfers and all beach users need to be vigilant of the little sandy coloured fish that lives in the sea on our beaches. It spends most of the time buried under the sand with just its venomous black dorsal fins showing above the sandy bottom. It grows to a maximum length of 15 cm. They are found all round the Irish coast but mainly in sandy areas where the water is shallow. The public are most at risk close to the mean low water spring tides. This occurs when you have a new moon or a full moon. This causes swimmers, walkers and surfers to venture further out on the beach in to the area where the weever fish live.

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Angling

To get the most out of your trip and ensure your safety, you should have a plan before you go. Fishing is a hugely enjoyable sport but do not allow one bad experience to put you off forever.

Before you pack that tackle box, tie those flies or buy that new net, you need to consider a host of issues.

Assess the location you are going to, the weather forecast beforehand, the limitations of your boat, tides and any potential hazards on your trip. Always have a contingency plan and leave details about your trip with someone on shore.

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Surfing

If adventure is what you are after, surfing might just be the sport for you. With great waves and lots of beaches Ireland offers some of the best surfing in Europe. Remember though, you can experience the thrills of the surf without taking risks.

From beginners to experienced surfers, we all need to respect the water and others. Before taking out your board be aware of the associated dangers on the water. Many surf schools provide lessons and will give practical demonstrations.

There is some basic surf etiquette you can follow which will make your life and those of others easy. The surfer closest to the peak has priority and you should never ‘drop in’ on anybody else. To avoid collision, paddle for white water or paddle wide on the shoulder.

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Stay Safe on the Surf