Teenager becomes fifth victim in week of heat-wave drownings

17-year-old recovered from canal at Ardnacrusha, Co Clare this evening

Emergency services were called to the scene when the 19-year-old man disappeared while swimming in a lake with friends at Strokestown last night.Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Emergency services were called to the scene when the 19-year-old man disappeared while swimming in a lake with friends at Strokestown last night.Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 20:43

The body of a 17-year-old has been recovered from a canal at Ardnacrusha, Co Clare this evening where he had been swimming with friends and failed to emerge from the water, bringing the number of deaths by drowning this week to five.

Emergency services were contacted and a search and rescue operation was carried out at the scene, with a recovery at about 5.30pm.

His death followed two similar tragedies yesterday involving a 19-year-old in Roscommon and in Cork where a ten-year-old drowned while swimming at Youghal.

On Tuesday night a woman in her 20s drowned while night swimming with friends in a river at Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick at about midnight.

Fresh safety appeals have been issued as searing conditions continue to attract thousands to the water.

Water Safey Ireland (WSI) has issued a warning with particular emphasis on supervision before anyone has a chance to get into difficulties.

“Life guards are not babysitters; they are there to affect a rescue or prevent it happening in the first place,” said deputy chief executive Roger Sweeney.

“But unfortunately parents and guardians still leave their kids alone or they leave them beside the life guards.”

Mr Sweeney said that 40 children have drowned in Ireland in the last ten years and last year, even without a particularly good summer, some 319 children were rescued.

He said supervision was essential as, contrary to popular belief, it is not always obvious when somebody is in serious difficulty and signalling for help is not necessarily possible.

“Drowning is a silent killer; don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

“Drowning is deceptively quiet. You will be unable to shout because your lungs are primed to breath, so when you gasp for air you breath first.

“You also won’t wave like you see on TV because your body will be instinctively treading water. You may struggle for no more than 60 seconds and then you are under. This is how a drowning occurs.”

Alcohol is involved in one third of fatalities while two in three (62 per cent) occur in fresh water.

There have also been renewed concerns about people jumping from buildings and bridges, often into shallow water.

In Co Laois today, the council was forced to intervene when youths were spotted jumping from the roofs of vehicles at Castletown Bridge outside Mountrath.

“The water is very murky at the moment, particularly on the Nore and that makes it very difficult for any kind of rescue effort,” said official Anne Marie Maher.

“People jumping from those heights are at serious risk of doing damage to themselves”.

RNLI sea safety manager Kevin Rahill urged sun-seekers to make sure they can swim properly before getting into the water and to make themselves aware of any danger.

“Generally speaking, we would warn people against swimming in strong currents and strong tides, especially rip tides,” he said.

He also warned against jumping off rocks or pier walls unless swimmers are certain there is enough water below them and no submerged obstacles.

The Irish Coast Guard urged the public use a personal flotation device when swimming, canoeing, surfing, angling or sail boarding.

The ESB yesterday issued a reminder that people are not allowed to swim in its reservoirs due to the risk of uneven ground, deep waters, changing water levels and fast-flowing waters.