Planning to cool off at the beach? Then beware of the dangers of the water

The devastating events in Ballybunion last week, when a brave brother died in the sea off Kerry along with his sister whom he was desperately trying to save, has underscored the urgency of renewed calls for greater awareness of the potential danger of the water.

Erry rescue officials described the tragedy as the worst swimming accident in the area in over 30 years.

And as the country braces for a week-long heatwave with temperatures reaching 30°C, water safety must be on everyone’s lips.

With every hot weather comes the tragic rise in drowning cases as more and more people are drawn to water-based activities in sometimes treacherous seas.

Last month, three people tragically died from water-related deaths in a week as good weather swept the country.

Bradley Lulendo, 14, from Dublin, was swimming with a friend at Burrow Beach on the Howth Peninsula on July 11 when he got into trouble and later died.

The next day, father-of-four Patrick McCarthy, 41, died after getting into trouble while swimming at Fanore, Co Clare beach with a young child who miraculously survived the incident.

Michael Timmons, 60, died days later, on July 16, after getting into trouble while swimming at Derryounce Lake in Portarlington, Co Laois.

An average of 110 people drown each year in Ireland, the vast majority in local rivers and lakes.

August is typically the month with the highest number of accidental drownings, and almost 80 percent of these are men.

Water Safety Ireland CEO Roger Sweeney warned that many people who have survived a pandemic have not had swimming lessons since the outbreak of Covid and many are getting back in the water for the first time since 2019. “People tend to overestimate their ability and underestimate the risk, even in patrolled waterways,” he said.

Met Éireann has forecast “heat wave conditions” for this week from Wednesday and issued a rare “heat stress” advisory for those at high risk, but also warned of the risk of “water-related incidents”.

Temperatures could top 28C in many areas in Ireland on Thursday and Friday as a high pressure zone is set to deliver Mediterranean-style weather for the next 10 days.

Those who want to cool off on the beach must respect the water. The Irish Coastguard and Water Safety Ireland have appealed to people to take every precaution when water sports.

This includes only swimming in areas patrolled by lifeguards, never swimming alone, becoming familiar with the area you are swimming in and never allowing children to use inflatable toys in the water.

There is no doubt that focused attention to all aspects of unseen danger can have a real impact and hopefully prevent further tragedy. Planning to cool off at the beach? Then beware of the dangers of the water

Fry Electronics Team

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