The terrible spate of drownings over the summer weeks have acted as a stark reminder that this is still a major issue that we need to tackle.
Although five people drowning at the same time is a highly unusual event, as happened at Camber Sands just last week, the mere fact that so many people have died over the summer is, sadly, the norm. In the last two weeks of August alone, 12 people drowned (that we know of) which would mean it’s in line with the average of 30 people we see drowning accidentally every month.
Every year an average of around 400 lives are lost in the UK’s waters – more than one a day – and they’re not just confined to the beach and coast. Around two thirds of all drownings happen at inland waters such as rivers, canals, lakes, and quarries; every year, a handful of children under the age of six will drown in garden ponds.
And the truly tragic thing is none of these drownings are inevitable – they simply don’t have to happen.
RoSPA is a member of the National Water Safety Forum, a coalition of organisations including the RNLI, the Royal Life Saving Society and others, which is dedicated to reducing the number of accidental drownings in the UK.
Earlier this year the forum published its UK Drowning Prevention Strategy, developed in response to a call from the World Health Organisation for every country to have its own drowning prevention plan.
The first plan of its kind, the strategy aims to reduce accidental drowning fatalities by 50 per cent by 2026, and reduce risks among the highest-risk populations, groups and communities.
There are several ways we plan to tackle this problem, and over the first three years there are a number of targets:
- Every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school and, if needed, at Key Stage 3
- Every community with water risks should have a community-level risk assessment and water safety plan
- We need to better understand water-related self-harm – an average of 200 people take their own lives in UK waters each year, on top of the 400 accidental deaths
- We must increase awareness of everyday risks in, on and around the water. Astonishingly, the vast majority of those who drowned did not intend to be in the water – a large number die each year after falling in while walking or running, with many of those being alcohol related
- All recreational activity organisations should have a clear strategic risk assessment and plans that address key risks.
You can read the full strategy here. For more information on water safety, check out RoSPA's website.
David Walker, RoSPA's leisure safety manager
Posted: 9/1/2016 3:34:39 PM