In the three years following the launch of the UK drowning prevention strategy, lots of organisations across the UK have made real progress towards reducing the number of deaths we see in our waters.
According to data collected by the National Water Safety Forum, the average number of people drowning in 2010-2013 was 399. With the addition of the most recent drowning statistics, that figure has been reduced to an average of 273 in 2016-2018.
However, we must not rest on laurels or allow any room for complacency. In order to build on this progress we need to adapt the learning from the national drowning prevention strategy so it meets the needs of different communities around the UK. This will be the focus of the National Water Safety Conference, which will see water and leisure safety managers gather together in London on November 18.
Delegates at the conference will have the opportunity to hear from other water safety experts who have developed effective local drowning prevention plans. Chairman of the Manchester Water Safety Partnership, David Wilson, will explore some of the challenges, including myths around “the pusher”, and will share lessons learnt from failure and how Manchester – from bar staff to the Mayor – is seeking to live up to the spirit and challenge of #MakeCharlieTheLast.
In his capacity as chairman of the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum, Mark Towens, harbour master for the Port of London Authority,
will present to conference delegates the lessons from the development of the forum and its own drowning prevention strategy, and what the next steps are. The Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum’s strategy was launched earlier this year with support from HRH Prince William. The aim is to reduce the annual 700 incidents and 30 fatalities resulting from accidental or deliberate drowning along the River Thames. It is a multi-faceted approach that calls on planners, local authorities, businesses and those from all walks of life to play their part in saving lives and making a #SaferThames
Sadly, in the last two years there has been a small but significant rise in the number of drowning incidents that have been ruled to be suicides. We all can play a part in reducing the number of suicides that occur on or near the water. At the National Water Safety Conference this year, Dr Peter Aitken, director of research and development at Devon Partnership NHS Trust,
will set out the challenges that we face and the practical organisational and community steps that can be taken to address. Preventing someone taking their own life by entering the water can be as simple as opening up a conversation with “how are you mate?”. From Peter, we will learn how mental health first aid can be a powerful tool in drowning prevention.
Conference delegates will also gain insights into water safety and site management from legal experts, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and from our colleague down under, Justin Scar, CEO of Royal Lifesaving Society Australia.
Most importantly attendees at the National Water Safety Conference will have time to network, inspire and learn from each other so they can continue to reduce the number of people who tragically lose their lives in the water.
David Walker, leisure safety manager, RoSPA
You can register for the National Water Safety Conference here
Posted: 11/15/2019 4:51:59 PM