Parents urged not to let children use inflatable toys in the sea

The Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland are urging the public not to use inflatable toys in open water as they present a drowning risk.

The popular inflatables should never be used at rivers, lakes or beaches as the devices are vulnerable to the slightest breeze or current and can take a child away from shore and into danger. Equally the temporary loss of such a device could attract children or adults to try and retrieve them from the water and thereby get into a life-threatening situation.

There’s no doubt that there will be an increase of beach-goers as the weather improves, but Gerard O’Flynn of the Irish Coast Guard has stressed just how dangerous inflatable toys are, “Our hearts go out to the family that recently suffered such a tragic loss and we are also mindful of a number of very near misses whereby children were swept out to sea and were rescued following a full scale Search and Rescue operation.”

Toys like inflatable boats, rings and even air mattresses are being used in the sea, but they can be lethal in open water, lifeguards warn.

Roger Sweeney of Water Safety Ireland commented, “Drownings typically occur when a person overestimates their ability and underestimates the risk. The risk that an inflatable toy can take a person out of their depth and out of their comfort zone is very high due to Ireland’s changeable offshore winds and the range of our tides. This is further compounded if the toy deflates and the person tries to swim or paddle a partly deflated toy to safety. 

“Cooler water can quickly cool the muscles needed for swimming and hidden currents can make this swim very difficult and sometimes impossible. These toys provide a false sense of security and should be avoided.

The public have been asked to redouble their efforts to ensure that basic safety precautions are observed when recreating on or near the water.


Inflatable toys are not safe for persons to float upon in open water.

Never be tempted to swim out after a floating toy.

Supervise children closely to ensure that they never use inflatable toys in open water.

If you see somebody in trouble in the water or along the coast use VHF Ch 16 or Dial 112 (or 999) and ask for the Coast Guard.