Drowning statistics give cause for optimism and show prevention is working

11/05/2018

The latest UK drowning statistics show that prevention efforts appear to be working, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

The figures from the National Water Safety Forum, of which RoSPA is a member, show that 255 people drowned accidentally or through natural causes in water in 2017 – a drop of 15 per cent from the 2016 figure of 300.

The data from the forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) also show that a large number of drownings happened at coastal and sea locations (103); the total number of deaths in inland waters (such as rivers, lakes, quarries, lochs and canals) is 132. As in previous years, many people drowned having never intended to be in the water – 106 people who had been walking or running near water were among the fatalities.

While WAID shows there were 123 incidents in which the cause was not recorded or confirmed, RoSPA believes the numbers are promising, with the early work being undertaken as part of the UK’s Drowning Prevention Strategy seemingly taking effect.

Errol Taylor, RoSPA chief executive, said: “We are cautiously optimistic about the figures for 2017 and the general downward trend in drowning over the past few years.

“What this information doesn’t show is the considerable partnership working within the National Water Safety Forum and in communities up and down the country; from helping children to learn to swim, to building water safety communities, and raising awareness of key risks without stopping people enjoying the water.

“We are still in the early phases of the UK’s Drowning Prevention Strategy, which was launched by the forum two years ago, however these figures give us encouragement, and we hope that we can continue to address the burden of drowning.”

For more on the latest WAID statistics, see www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/reports.asp

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