Annual UK drowning figures revealed ahead of RoSPA water safety seminar

13/10/2013

The number of people accidentally drowning in the UK has dropped by nearly nine per cent in a year to 371 deaths in 2012, latest figures reveal.   

More than half of deaths from accidents or natural causes continued to be in inland waters, such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs (203), while drowning at the coast or in a harbour, dock, marina or port accounted for a third (124), according to new data from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).     

The NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID), which breaks down drownings by activity, age and location type, reveals that more than a fifth of fatalities (84) were in the 50-65 age group, many while involved in activities such as sub aqua diving, swimming and angling.   

Meanwhile, the under-19s accounted for 12 per cent of deaths (43), of which more than half were teenagers aged 15 to 19 (25) who predominantly got into difficulties in rivers or at the coast or beach. In the youngest age bracket of four and under, seven children drowned, two while in a bath.   

Figures are revealed ahead of the National Water Safety Seminar, hosted by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), which takes place at The Lowry, Salford Quays, on Thursday (October 17).   

David Walker, a member of the NWSF and RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “While the figures for 2012 are encouraging, we mustn’t get complacent, especially given the prolonged heatwave we had this year.   

“There’s much more that could be done to save lives and improve water safety. That’s why the main focus of the National Water Safety Seminar will be to create a consensus for a national drowning prevention strategy in order to further reduce the number of deaths.”   

Professionals covering sea, beach, inland, swimming pool and watersports safety including from the Royal Life Saving Society UK, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and the Amateur Swimming Association will use the seminar to discuss how best to tackle key issues, such as increasing the number of schoolchildren who can swim the minimum requirement of 25m.   

In 2011, 407 people drowned from accidents or natural causes in the UK, with 219 of these (54 per cent) at inland waters. In this year, water-related deaths for children and young people up to the age of 19 reached 47 and nearly half of these - 22 deaths - were in the 15 to 19 age group, and predominantly in a river or lake.   

See www.rospa.com/events/watersafetyseminar/ to view the full seminar programme. Places are still available by calling 0121 248 2089.   

A full copy of the UK Water-related Fatalities 2012 report can be viewed at: www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/info/waid_fatalincidentreport_2012.pdf  

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