Swimmers urged to exercise caution when jumping into water

‘People should not jump in without being fully aware of what is under the surface’

A doctor working with beach lifeguards has warned people of the dangers of tombstoning or jumping into water from a height this August Bank Holiday weekend as the warm weather returns and temperatures are set to hit over 20 degrees.

Dr Tony Lynch, who works with the Beach Lifeguard Team in Co Cork, said people can often make snap decisions that may have lifelong consequences for them and their family when they decide t jump into water from a height.

Jumping from a height into water, known as tombstoning, including jumping from rocks, piers, harbours, bridges, banks of rivers, walls, cliffs or boats presents huge risks to personal safety and often to the safety of rescue personnel, he said.

“Patients present with broken heel bones, ankles fractured, shattered patellas, dislocated and fractured hips but also very serious spinal injuries and these injuries also present an increased risk of drowning,” he said


“People should not jump into a body of water without being fully aware of what is under the surface. Caution should be taken even where deep water is assured as impact with the water’s surface can cause bodily harm,” he added.

Dr Lynch’s message was echoed by Caroline Caey of Cork County Council’s Water and Road Safety Development Office who said that people should resist the temptation to cool off this weekend by jumping into water.

“Everyone loves the exhilaration of jumping off a height in to perfectly clear water. It is the dream holiday photo. However, when you have seen the damage a jump from a height can do to a body then you have a very different picture in your head,” she said.

“The simple truth is you just do not know what you will encounter once your body breaks the surface of the water. Your interpretation of depth - the location of objects beneath the surface and even the bottom of the water itself - are affected by refraction of light.”

Irish Water Safety have similarly warned young people of the consequences of "tombstoning" into the sea after a number of youths were filmed jumping from cliffs in Co Clare recently, narrowly missing the rocks below before entering the sea.

In the UK, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has issued similar warnings, describing the craze "as a high-risk, unregulated activity, undertaken by unsupervised individuals" as it revealed that 20 people have died since 2005 while tombstoning while over 60 have been seriously injured.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times