BFRRS Safety on Water (01 Jan 2008)

“A Stolen Ringbuoy – A Stolen Life”
Lives will be lost unless the public assists the local authorities to ensure that ringbuoys are not interfered with or damaged.

The placement of ringbuoys at many locations throughout Ireland has contributed to the saving of many lives.  The Irish Water Safety Association introduced a specific colour code for the ring buoy, rope and box to enhance visibility and to reduce vulnerability to theft and abuse.

The 18 inch throwing and retrieving ring buoy is the one used by local authorities around Ireland.  It is compact and light in design, allowing it to be thrown to the casualty in the water, and if missed it can be quickly retrieved and re-thrown.

The standard drill for throwing ringbuoys forms a primary part of early water safety instruction in classes run by the Irish Water Safety Association and now in Primary schools under the Primary Aquatic Water Safety programme, which is part of the Primary School Syllabus.  

Regrettably, there are still incidents of malicious damage and theft to these lifesaving appliances and there is a continuing need for the public to be made aware, in unambiguous terms, that damage or theft of such ringbuoys or the attached rope, could result in the loss of life.  Ringbuoys have played an important role in reducing accidental drowning on average 38% but particularly in the case of non-accidental drownings on average 55%*. Efforts continue to educate the public that "A Stolen Rinbuoy can mean a Stolen Life".  

The Local Authorities maintain Ringbuoys as lifesaving appliances nationwide. The purpose of these Ringbuoys is twofold: firstly they act as a constant visible reminder of the danger that the Aquatic environment represents, and they are intended to be used to effect a life-saving rescue of any person who may find themselves in distress. Some irresponsible members of the public vandalise these lifesaving appliances. Some of the Local Authorities on their regular checks particularly in urban areas discover that they are either missing or have been vandalised. There is obviously a financial cost to this vandalism to be borne by the ratepayers and taxpayers, but the serious risk is to human life caused by the deliberate damage to this equipment. Irish Water Safety appeals to the public to assist in maintaining these vitally important lifesaving appliances in good condition at all times. Any person seen tampering or in possession with these lifebelts should be reported to the Local Authorities and/or the Garda Station.

Please report missing ringbuoys to the relevant Local Authority.

Any person coming upon the Ringbuoy or ropes in unsatisfactory condition can assist in public safety by untangling the rope and replacing it in the boxes or hooks provided for the purpose. Please coil the ropes in a clockwise direction and place the coil of rope at the bottom of the box or on the hanging hook provided.  The Gardai have been successful in convicting members of the public for interfering with and damaging lifesaving equipment but they require the public’s assistance in successful prosecutions.

Four years ago Irish Water Safety commenced a collaborative project with all the Local Authorities, which involved designing a sticker, which was placed on Ring buoys around the country, which read “A stolen ringbuoy – a stolen life”. This initiative has been successful in reducing the degree of vandalism and damage to them however there is a small number of members of the public who persistently remove and damage ring buoys. We seek the public’s support in dissuading and preventing this unnecessary damage.

The Irish Water Safety Association, the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland, issues this advice. Courses in swimming, lifesaving, water confidence, survival and Basic Life Support are available nationwide throughout the year.

More information at
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