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Summer safety for water users

Summer safety for water users

Áine Ryan

SUMMER  skies have lured our winter-worn selves into the outdoors as swimsuits and bikinis, goggles and flippers were dusted down over the last week. So the timing is perfect for Water Safety Awareness Week, which  highlights the many dangers posed by the county’s alluring rivers and beaches.
Programme Co-Ordinator, Tadhg McNally explained to The Mayo News how invaluable this safety drive, based on the Irish Water Safety’s Primary Aquatic Water Safety (PAWS) programme, is for schoolchildren.  
“PAWS is specifically geared towards the classroom, where I talk on water safety in the home, in the pool, on the farm, on the beach, boating and the use of emergency numbers. I also show the correct use of equipment, such as ring-buoys, throw-lines and explain Lifeguard flags and the Blue flag,” Tadhg McNally said.
During the last four years, Mr McNally has rolled out the programme, on a voluntary basis, to over 4,000 primary schools students all over the county.
“When I started this in 2008, there were 160 people on average drowning in the country annually. Today I am proud to say that the average is down to 146 people. We would like to think that our Awareness Programme is working well,” he continued.
He also told The Mayo News that the school children really become ‘engrossed in the programme’ and, moreover, ‘have related many stories about their own experiences in and around water’.
“Most stories are humorous, but, unfortunately, I have also heard the tragic ones,” he added.
Irish Water Safety certificates will be presented to fifth and sixth class pupils from Scoil Phádraig and to service-users at Western Care at the Castlecourt Hotel on Thursday next, May 31. There will also be a special presentation by Junior Minister Michael Ring.
More National Water Safety Awareness Week, May 28 to June 3. Check out www.iws.ie for more information on water safety.

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