Anyone can drown, no one should....this powerful message will be shared by individuals and organisations across the globe on Sunday July 25 2021- the first World Drowning Prevention Day.
The day is a result of the United Nations (UN) who adopted a resolution on drowning prevention earlier this year. The resolution recognises the devastating effect that drowning has across the world and identifies a number of key steps that can be taken to tackle this preventable harm:
I think the UK is well placed especially through our work with NWSF and our drowning prevention strategy...but there remains a big challenge.
On this week in particular I'd be remiss not to mention the 26 water related deaths. This is unprecedented in my experience and around 10 per cent of the annual accidental drowning death burden.
Just because we have seen positive progress the last few years, it does not automatically translate into the future.
Thinking about the approach in more detail and what it means for the UK:
Anyone can drown...
When we launched the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy, I was surprised that more people were not aware that over half of all drowning deaths involve people who had no intention to be in the water. Another fact that often surprises people is that most deaths happen away from the coast... sadly drowning happens in almost every community across the country and it is not just young and risk-taking males who drown- it can happen to anyone at any age.
No one should ….
In 2016, we committed to a 50 per cent reduction in accidental drowning deaths with a vision, of ‘a future without drowning’. On the first point, I am cautiously optimistic, but there remain significant hurdles. There are still communities that do not have a plan to prevent drowning and who are not performing well at the core aspects of water safety, such as education. There are many drowning deaths that are repeated and yet very preventable, the 100 plus falls into water are one example where we have targeted our efforts.
This is the question I ask of myself, colleagues at RoSPA and partners at the National Water Safety Forum. Firstly, I believe our collective relationship in the UK with Health colleagues needs to improve. Secondly, there is much more work to be done at community level (we hope demonstrate the life-saving work done in Manchester soon). Finally, despite heroic efforts by bereaved families and water safety organisations we are still some way short of providing the educational and awareness needed to protect children.
Reflect and use this opportunity
This Sunday we all should reflect on the stark estimate, revealed by the World Health Organisation, that 236,000 people die globally from drowning each year- making it one of the leading causes of unintentional death worldwide.
We should mark this day in memory of those who have lost their lives to this preventable killer, and also use the day as the start of a conversation rather than a event observed just once a year.
That is my ambition for World Drowning Prevention Day.
You can help by sharing your insights, experiences and messages with #DrowningPrevention and #RespectTheWater tags, and the resources from WHO and the UK National Water Safety Forum and Water Safety Scotland sites.
- Create a national body with responsibility for drowning prevention
- Develop a national drowning prevention plan
- Develop a programme in line with the WHO’s recommendations
- Ensure enactment and effective enforcement of water safety laws
- Encourage the registration of drowning deaths
- Promote drowning prevention public awareness
I’d like hear your thoughts - you can reach me on Twitter @DavidJWalks or drop me a line at [email protected].
Head of Road and Leisure Safety at RoSPA
Posted: 7/23/2021 5:29:31 PM