What is the history of the ringbuoy in Ireland?
The 18" Ringbuoy has evolved as an Irish Water Safety device, designed in 1971 to 1972. It was originally used by lifeguards on beaches for effecting rescues and because of its success it was decided to use it as public Rescue equipment.

In the 1970's there was little Public Rescue Equipment (PRE) in use in Ireland. There was a small amount situated mainly in our Harbours. Here, the United Nations, Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) lifebelt was used which had originally been designed as a result of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 with the Paris Treaty. These buoys were 36" diameter and were much heavier to lift and throw as they were designed to be deployed from a ship where they could be dropped down on to the surface from the ship. Harbour Masters who were retired ships Captains erected them in their Harbours to help reduce the number of drownongs in their harbours.

Tests were conducted by Irish Water Safety comparing the two ringbuoys and it was found that the 18" ringbuoy was far more successful at effecting rescues by members of the public in comparison to the much larger heavier and cumbersome 36" ringbuoy designed by SOLAS. They could be deployed easily with little or no training and if you missed the casualty you could throw again quickly as it could be easily retrieved.

The original ringbuoys were made from Cork, and then later in the 1970's they were made from polystyrene. Both of these materials did not stand up very well to the ultra violet from the sun and the hard weather experienced in our temperate climate. In the 1980's foam filled ringbuoys began to appear as polymer science improved and in the 1990's the material used was improved to the specification which is still used today.

The ringbuoys were introduced to be supplied to our Local Authorities, they are considerably less expensive than the 36" SOLAS approved appliance and Local Authorities slowly began to erect them at sites where members of the public had drowned. Today, Risk Assessments are completed by IWS personnel and amongst their recommendations will be the erection of ringbuoys.

A Kildare Water Safety Initative - Irish Water Safety Approved - Created & Sponsored by Graphic Workshop, www.beprepared.ie & www.throwbags.ie
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