With schools closed, the summer holidays in full swing and the possibility of good weather on the horizon now is the time to plan a trip to one of Ireland’s beautiful beaches and lakes. To help you choose where to go, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the latest information on the water quality of over 142 beaches and lakes nationwide on www.beaches.ie .
You can find out if a beach is dog-friendly, what time the tide will be in, whether first aid is available, and which beaches have lifesaving facilities. You can also use the website to find out if any current warnings or swim restriction notices are in operation at our main beaches.
Peter Webster, Senior Scientist at the EPA is encouraging everyone to use beaches.ie when planning their summer trip:
“Almost three quarters of our beaches are classified as ‘excellent’ by EU standards* so we really should make use of these fantastic natural resources on our doorsteps. We would urge anyone heading to the beach or to inland bathing sites to check out the water quality on the beaches.ie website and sign up to the EPA on Twitter @EPABeaches to receive alerts of reported swim restrictions at our main beaches. Water quality data and information on swim restrictions is displayed locally on Local Authority websites and on the beach notice boards.”
The EPA has the following advice for people planning holidays this summer:
· Use the beaches.ie website: It will help you choose the right bathing spot for you and your family
· Never go swimming alone: It’s safest to swim with a friend but at the very least, always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Swim within your depth, parallel to shore, in designated areas when a lifeguard is on duty.
· Supervise Kids: Adults supervising kids at the beach or near water need to be vigilant.
· Don’t drink and swim and take note of warning signs: Always observe any swim restrictions or safety hazards signs; they’re there for your safety.
· Water quality: Can deteriorate quite quickly after very heavy rainfall, especially at beaches near urban areas. It is best to avoid water activities at the beach for at least 48 hours after heavy rainfall to protect your health.
· Respect your surroundings: Take a ‘leave no trace’ approach to prevent and minimise harm during your next summer trip. While at the beach or outdoors, make sure to dispose of litter properly in the waste and recycling bins provided or alternatively bring your waste home and dispose of it later
· Use the ‘See it Say it’ app to report any environmental concerns: By taking a quick photo, and adding a few details, this app makes it easier to make a complaint about issues such as dumping of litter or other environmental problems
· Know the warning flags: Never swim where a sign says not to or when the red flag is flying. The red flag is flown when there is a water safety risk e.g. the presence of dangerous under currents-or where pollution is likely or when there is an increased risk of illness if you go into the water.
· Avoid harm from sun exposure: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to reduce the intensity of the sun rays. Apply sunscreen -15-20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply regularly, especially if you have been in the water. Limit exposure between the hours of 10am and 2pm as UV rays are strongest at these times, especially during the summer.
The beaches.ie website shares the latest information on water quality and you can search for over 142 beaches and lakes across Ireland. You can discover beaches near you, find out which beaches have safe water quality and learn about beach amenities. You can also find out swim restrictions and annual water quality ratings for 142 beaches.