The ‘Get Wet Stay Safe’ (GWSS) programme returns for its second year to ensure the safe use of open water spaces.
The GWSS programme is a joint initiative between Sport NI, Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, Swim Ulster, Swim Ireland, Maritime Coastguard Agency, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, The Outdoor Partnership and local authorities.
GWSS provides a series of training sessions in each council area on the impacts of cold water and basic safety messages for Stand Up Paddleboard and Sit On Top Kayak users as well as open water swimmers.
The second year of the programme was launched at South Lakes Leisure Centre in Craigavon where those in attendance also had the opportunity for to take part in a Get Wet Stay Safe session on the water.
Chief Executive of Sport NI, Antoinette McKeown said: “It has been brilliant to see the increase in people taking part in water sports and taking advantage of the many accessible locations on our doorsteps across Northern Ireland.
“Water sports are a great way to stay active during the summer and being outdoors has many benefits for our mental health and wellbeing but open water also has significant risks.
“We want to ensure that water sport is enjoyed but is done so safely. The Get Wet Stay Safe programme will educate users on the risks of open water and how to look after themselves to avoid situations but also how to help themselves if a problem should arise.
“The first year of this programme saw over 600 people take part in our safety sessions, equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to enjoy their time on the water safely.
“We would encourage anyone thinking of taking part in paddleboarding, kayaking or open water swimming to attend one of our sessions.”
Sessions are being held in all 11 council areas in Northern Ireland every weekend and on Wednesday evenings between May and September.
The programme is also being sponsored by Nature Valley with every attendee on a course receiving a bar.
If you are interested in attending a session, please click the GetWetNI link for a list of locations and dates: https://www.getwetni.com/
People enjoying adventure activities (whether on water or land) in Northern Ireland are also being urged to #BeAdventureSmart, as partners come together to launch the AdventureSmart Northern Ireland campaign.
New pages on www.adventuresmart.uk feature detailed information for popular outdoor pursuit sites including the Mournes, the Causeway Coast, the Sperrins, Strangford and the Fermanagh Lakelands.
The campaign encourages people to be AdventureSmart by asking three questions before they set off for their day:
The website has all the information needed to be in the know and kitted up to enjoy Northern Ireland safely.
Paul Donovan, co-lead for the AdventureSmart campaign said: “We are pleased to join forces with the Get WET Stay Safe programme in a coordinated approach to outdoor safety in Northern Ireland. This collaboration will offer well-placed opportunities to gently nudge those in search of an adventure to take responsibility for their own safety and make their good day better.
“Over 100 organisations with an interest in outdoor recreation and tourism are partners in the national campaign. We are asking campaign partners to engage in conversations with those who venture outdoors about being adventure smart, to encourage them to make their good day better by taking some simple actions to help them enjoy the hills, water, countryside and coastline safely.
“We all know, the weather changes rapidly here in Northern Ireland so encouraging people to keep a close eye on the current weather conditions and to improve their understanding of how that will affect the environment will enable them to be flexible and prepared. Everyone should set off knowing it’s ok to choose a more suitable location or make plans for another day instead.”
To access the information on the adventuresmart website, please visit: www.adventuresmart.uk/northern-ireland