A WATER safety warning has been issued ahead of the busy Bank Holiday weekend, with Water Safety Ireland asking people to only swim in lifeguarded waterways.
Chief executive of Water Safety Ireland John Leech said that due to the new moon on Thursday, there are strong rip tides currently being experienced along the coastline which could increase the risk of drowning.
Mr Leech said these currents can often be misunderstood by casual swimmers and can lead to people getting into difficulty.
“The new moon will cause strong rip currents on all surfing beaches or those with a fairly steep gradient,” he said. “These can quickly take a person away from shore which is helpful to the surfer but can cause tragedy to those who don’t understand them.
“Lifeguards are trained to spot these currents and keep people away from danger.
Should you find yourself in one, then simply swim parallel to the shore until you leave it, then swim back ashore.”
Mr Leech encouraged people to choose areas supervised by lifeguards this weekend.
“Here in Cork people are spoilt for choice in terms of lifeguarded beaches, from Youghal to Fountainstown, there is no shortage of place to go and the well-trained lifeguards in Cork are another advantage.”
Offering general advice to swimmers, Mr Leech said swim within your depth and stay within your depth.
According to official figures, the number of people drowning is decreasing. In 2018, 103 drowned, the lowest since 1939, 80 years ago.
To ensure this downward trend continues, Water Safety Ireland is asking the public to take personal responsibility when on or near water, have a healthy attitude towards it and ensure behaviour is safe around aquatic environments.
Mr Leech said while safety is paramount, the water is at a very warm temperature at present and it is ideal for swimming.
“The Seawater temperature is between 15° and 18° Celsius whilst Freshwater is between 19° and 20° so water temperature is approaching its highest of the bathing season and we encourage the public to get in an enjoy a swim, good for both physical and mental health.
Other things to be aware of are weaver fish which can be found in shallow water and can result in cuts on feet.
“Don’t go out in low water as there will be lots of weaver fish around,” Mr Leech advised.
Discussing jellyfish such as Lions Mane and Japanese Manowar, Mr Leech said there have been few sightings of these in Cork this summer.
“Fingers crossed the trend continues but at the moment we are getting very little reports of these kinds of jellyfish, which is great for swimmers as the stings can be quite dangerous.”