Swimmers urged to take care after 10 people drown in 15 days

Irish Water safety says there has been a "huge spike" in water related deaths

Swimmers urged to take care after 10 people drown in 15 days

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10 people have died through drowning in the last 15 days, according to Irish Water Safety.

They include a man in his 40s who died after getting into difficulty while swimming in Lough Derg, County Galway yesterday evening.

Two 15-year-old boys also drowned in Ennis, Co. Clare last week.

John Leech, CEO of Irish Water Safety, said there has been a “huge spike” in water safety related deaths in the past two weeks.

“The last time we had a spike like this was in 2013 where we lost 13 people in 14 days to drowning – and again it was in that very, very nice warm spell that we had back in July of that year,” he said.

“So we are very concerned at the moment that the numbers just seem to be climbing day by day.”

Cold water

He said cold water is the “highest contributing factor to drownings” in Ireland.

“It causes the cold shock – that instinctive gasping of air, where people can bring air into their lungs,” he said.

“It also causes stroke and causes heart attacks.

“The water is cold and unless you have been swimming quite regularly in cold water, it is a shock to the system

“People can just get either cramp or start feeling unwell – maybe feel a little bit dizzy – so that is why we keep saying swim within your depth, stay within your depth and when you feel bad like that just drop your feet and wade back ashore.”

Lifeguards

He said the most important message for swimmers who do not spend a lot of time in the water is to “swim within your depth and stay within your depth.”

A number of county councils have taken the decision to keep lifeguards on duty at peak hours right through the week this week – and Mr Leech said swimmers should remain in designated bathing areas.

Nine of the ten people who drowned in the last 15 days were male and Mr Leech said: “Males in this country and males all over the world in fact tend to overestimate their skills and the competency and underestimate risk and hazards.”

He said alcohol is a factor in 30% of all drowning deaths.

“Don’t drink beside the water because regrettably all of our analysis has proved over the years that it just leads to further drownings,” said Mr Leech.