Frozen waterways prompt joint water safety appeal

Galway Daily news Temperatures as low as -5 degrees forecast for Galway overnight
Photo: Julia Volk via Pexels

The Coast Guard, RNLI, and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint warning for people to be aware of the added danger from icy conditions.

The three agencies have warned the public to be cautious of going out on frozen waterways, and to be extra careful due to the added danger of extremely cold water.

Due to the freezing temperatures in recent days, many canals, lakes, ponds, or other areas have frozen over, but that does not mean they are safe.

As the thickness of this ice can vary greatly the strong advice is to stay off the ice.

Be extra vigilant while walking beside bodies of water as walkways and paths can become extremely slippery and unsafe when icy. Keep pets and young children away from the edges.

Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO, Roger Sweeney said, “Children are naturally curious about walking on ice but parents should emphasize that it is not safe as the thickness can vary.”

“This is why it so important that adults provide uninterrupted, responsible supervision beside any waterway.”

Irish Coast Guard Head of Operations Gerard O’Flynn added, “Many people are looking forward  to engaging in outdoor activities, including open water swimming or quick dips over the over the festive period, but please attend to your personal safety by carefully planning your intended activity.”

The three groups have the following water safety tips to be aware of:

  • In an emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard
  • Have a means of calling for help, e.g., a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and a whistle
  • Check weather and tides. Be particularly mindful of strong wind conditions.
  • When you go open water swimming, it is very important to acclimatise by entering the water slowly and allowing time for your body to get used to the cold.
  • To help yourself acclimatise, splash the cold water on your neck and face.
  • Warm up afterwards by putting on dry clothes quickly and wear a warm hat as soon as you get out.
  • Entry and exit points may be difficult in the sub-zero conditions so walk slowly to avoid slipping.
  • Avoid swimming in areas where there is ice.Co

RNLI Water Safety Delivery Support Lisa Hollingum said, ‘Cold water shock is a very real possibility while winter swimming and dipping.”

“Acclimatise before getting in, don’t stay in long and warm up as soon as you get out of the water. Look out for one another.”

An Orange Weather Warning for low temperatures will be in effect from Thursday evening until Friday midday.