Water safety training should be made compulsory in our schools to raise awareness and to save lives, according to Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway.
Senator Conway, who is based in North Clare, said: “A number of incidents have occurred in our lakes, rivers and the sea, particularly during the recent hot spells of weather. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in our waters.
“The hot weather means increasing numbers of people are visiting outdoor recreational areas, taking to the sea and people are right to enjoy it.
“However, I believe that it is time to introduce a compulsory water safety module into our education curriculum. Young people need to have knowledge on swimming safely, the open water and to understand the perils that are involved.
“There needs to be a general knowledge on the dangers of currents and understanding of water language and terminology such as rip currents, undertows, high tides and rip tides. There needs to be a greater understanding of the tide cycle and respect among young people for the water in general.
“We are an island nation and many people live near the sea and most of our population are only a short drive from swimming areas.
“Unlike other countries we are not blessed with long spells of continuous sunny weather, so when we do have spells like this, people rightly want to take advantage of it. However it is critical not to let ones guard down and take any chances. There are significant rip currents at the moment along the west coast and listening to lifeguard instructions and being aware of safety signage is critically important.
“As a nation we need to educate our young people through our schools to understand the water, to respect it and to enjoy it in a safe and responsible way”, Senator Conway concluded.