Water safety organisations have teamed up with Local Authorities to highlight the danger of using inflatable toys in open water ahead of what is likely to be a busy summer at the seaside.
Cork County Council in conjunction with the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Ireland have produced two short films on the dangers of using inflatable toys in open water.
The six-minute educational videos, one aimed at primary school children and the other targeting adult audiences, were launched virtually on Thursday, May 6.
The key message is 'Enjoy the Water Safely but Be Safe by not using inflatables on open water.'
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley, welcomed the campaign: “Many people are simply not aware of the risks associated with using these toys on open water.
“The film features real-life footage from Coast Guard rescues and the eyewitness accounts truly bring home the very real dangers of inflatables. An unprecedented number of rescue callouts were caused by floating toys or devices last Summer. It's vital parents and guardians know inflatable toys do not belong on open water.”
Members of the Emergency Services, including the Coast Guard, RNLI & Lifeguard Service, outline the dangers of inflatables in the film. In the children’s version, young presenters Tadgh & Aisling, Water Safety Champions, explain through animation the effects wind and currents have when using these toys in the open water.
Divisional Controller with the Coast Guard John Draper said: “Last year The Coast Guard coordinated the responses to 20 incidents where small inflatable dinghies, Lilos and inflatable beach toys were involved. This was a threefold increase in this type of incident from the previous year. Tragically 2 of these incidents resulted in two fatalities in addition to 3 near-drowning fatalities.”
Chief Executive of Water Safety Ireland John F M Leech advised: “Inflatable toys should never be used on our waterways as Ireland’s temperate climate is not suitable for them, with wind, they become floating killers.”
RNLI’s Water Safety lead Kevin Rahill said “With good weather providing opportunities to go to the beach, lake or river, it is important to remember that inflatable toys are not designed for open water. They are the cause of many incidents responded to by the Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI and the lifeguards as they can be swept out very quickly by wind and currents, often faster than someone can swim after them. They can take a child out of their depth very quickly and as they are unstable, there is a high chance of falling off and ending up in the water.”
An online awareness campaign to promote vigilance on the water will follow on Cork County Council Beachguards social media channels (Twitter:@CorkCoCoBeachLG, Facebook: @CorkCoCoBeachLifeguardService, Instagram: corkcocobeachguards).
Please dial 999 or 112 in the case of an emergency.