Ahoy! Behave yourself during the Volvo Ocean Race!

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Know how to stay safe on and near the water

Next weekend the Volvo Open 70’s arrives in the City of the Tribes to make sailing history in Ireland. Thousands of interested members of the public and visitors from overseas will descend on the city to view these greyhounds of the sea. This unique opportunity will attract the largest flotilla of craft seen since the Spanish Armada on Galway Bay. Irish Water Safety is concerned that a momentary lapse of concentration or complacency could cause an accident and end in tragedy.

A considerable safety event management plan has been put in place to reduce the risk of such a tragedy by the Galway Harbour Master, Lets do it Galway, An Garda Siochana the Navy, the Coast Guard, Irish Water Safety, RNLI, Galway Fire Service, Galway Sub Aqua Club and the Civil Defence. But what is crucial to ensure everybody’s safety is for us all to take individual responsibility for our actions on or near the water during the course of this wonderful maritime festival. Drinks will be part of the festivities but is tragically a factor in many drownings, so don’t let alcohol spoil your outing and beware of the spring tides and the dangers of being stranded in unfamiliar territory.

Irish Water Safety trained Lifeguards will mingle in the large crowds and highlight the steps to take to reduce the risk of drowning or aquatic related injuries when the large numbers of people anticipated, gather along Galway’s historic waterways for the Volvo Ocean race stopover.

Children are naturally curious about water and as all eyes focus seaward, Irish Water Safety Lifeguards will be asking the public to focus equal attention on the safety of their family and friends gathered close to the water’s edge. The Finish on the 23rd & 24th, the In port race on Saturday 30th May (including the Red Arrows); the Pro Am Race on the 31st of May and the Start of the next leg to Sweden on the 6th June will present the greatest risk to the public where these magnificent yachts can be viewed from all sides of Galway Bay.

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As you enjoy and take in the experience, be vigilant of the safety of your family and guests.

Encourage children in your care to heed one basic safety tip: S.A.F.E. = Stay Away From Edge. Tell them to stay off slippery or steep rocks and they should only be near the shoreline if wearing a personal flotation device.

With so many local and visiting yachts and boats expected on the water, Irish Water Safety (IWS) encourages all to observe the 14 steps to safe and enjoyable boating:

1.      Check condition of boat and equipment, hull, engine, fuel, tools, torch.
2.      Check the weather forecast for the area.
3.      Check locally concerning dangerous currents, strong tides etc.
4.      Do not drink alcohol while setting out or during your trip.
5.      Carry an alternative means of propulsion e.g. sails and oars or motor and oars.
6.      Carry a first aid kit on board and distress signals (at least two parachute distress rockets, two red hand flares).
7.      Carry a fire extinguisher, a hand bailer or bucket with lanyard and an anchor with rope attached.
8.      Carry marine radio or some means of communication with shore.
9.      Do not overload the boat – this will make it unstable.
10.Do not set out unless accompanied by an experienced person.
11.Leave details of your planned trip with someone ashore – including departure and arrival times, description of boat, names of persons on board, etc.
12.Wear a Personal Flotation Device at all times.
13.Keep an eye on the weather – seek shelter in good time.
14.In Marine Emergencies, call 999 or 112 and ask for Marine Rescue.

For those of you who will be launching your boat for the first time this year ensure that your engine is serviced and operating correctly and always wear a Personal Flotation Device.

On Friday 29th of May off Palmer’s Beach an extensive Search and Rescue exercise will take place to help raise awareness of marine safety during the event. This spectacle will include Coast Guard Helicopters, RNLI and Coast Guard Lifeboats, Lifeguards and divers who will all simulate Search and Rescue situations which will allow them exercise their skills and demonstrate these to the public to give them a greater understanding of Search and Rescue assets in Ireland.

For more information and details of water safety classes in your area log on to www.iws.ie or LoCall Irish Water Safety on 1890 420 202.