Graphic water safety ads could save numerous lives in Ireland.
That’s the view of North-West MEP Jim Higgins, who this week pleaded with those who intend to enter the water to “take care, remain in their depth and only swim in areas known to be safe”.
Mr Higgins said that with an average of 140 Irish people dying each year, drowning is nearly as big a killer as road deaths in the country and while “we have moved mountains to increase road safety, we have yet to really tackle the issue of water safety”.
“Simple steps such as teaching water safety in national schools and running graphic water safety ads on TV and radio would save lives,” he said.
“Drowning is the second cause of death and injury for children in the EU. We must remember that the average drowning time is 60 seconds and children can drown in as little as two inches of water.”
Higgins added that water was Ireland’s most valuable and deadly resource and “must be respected”, with 99 per cent of drownings taking place inland, in rivers or lakes or around farms and homes.
“As the present weather is highly uncharacteristic, we simply are not used to swimming outdoors and so we are not aware of the dangers presented by hidden currents and swimming out of our depth,” he said.
“Tragic drownings are completely preventable and usually stem from a lack of awareness of basic water safety principles, like the ability to gauge our own ability. All too often, water safety education is confined to sea bordering communities something which must clearly change.”
The MEP said he had written to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn proposing that water safety education be as prevalent in national schools as the ‘safe cross code’.
“These deaths are 100 per cent preventable and everybody needs to assume responsibility to ensure that they are informed about basic water safety practices and that they, in, turn inform or carefully supervise their children,” he said.