ASA celebrates School Swimming anniversary

Today marks 125 years of School Swimming and the ASA were joined by Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch to celebrate the occasion.

Also attending the School Swimming anniversary at Everyone Active’s Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre were double Olympic gold medal winner Rebecca Adlington OBE, former World Champion Mark Foster and 2004 bronze Olympic medallist Steve Parry.

The Olympians dressed in Victorian costumes and gave 125 school pupils from the local area to a Victorian-style school swimming lesson. They then changed into 2015 costumes to teach a modern lesson to the children. They taught speed swimming, water polo and synchronised swimming.

See the ASA site for more information:

Occupational water safety issues explored at event

The importance of having the knowledge, equipment and skills required to work safely near water was highlighted during an event staged by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

The Institution’s Rural Industries Group explored the risks that employees face when working close to open water, and whether a blind spot exists in people’s perception of the scope and scale of the issue.

High-profile speakers shared lessons learned from near misses and accidents, while experts also demonstrated water rescue and recovery techniques to more than 70 delegates.

Ray Cooke, Head of the HSE’s Construction Sector Safety Team, said that very few of the 400 people who drown in the UK annually do so as a result of working near water.

He added, however, that the relatively small number of deaths didn’t reflect the seriousness of the issue.

Ray said: “We have no idea how many near misses there are, or how many people are suffering health issues as a result of contracting waterborne diseases.

“It is critical to plan how to deal with the operation in the first place.

Drowning prevention charity launches powerful film warning drinkers to stay safe near water

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is warning UK students to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol.

The drowning prevention charity is launching its national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign on 28 September to 4 October to warn drinkers, particularly students, to act responsibly near water after they have been drinking – and to make sure they and their friends avoid walking home near bodies of water.

RLSS UK has also launched a short, powerful and thought provoking film to mark the start of the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign. The film sees the effects of alcohol on a young person when in the water. It aims to raise awareness of the dangers of being near water when under the influence of alcohol.

Worrying decline in days out by the coast

Originally posted on National Trust Press Office:

Children enjoying the coast at Yaverland, Isle of Wight. Credit Steve Haywood Children enjoying the coast at Yaverland, Isle of Wight. Credit Steve Haywood

A YouGov study has revealed a worrying 20 per cent decline in the number of people visiting the coast since 2005. The research we commissioned also found that over half the nation hasn’t had a single day trip to the coast in the last year.

A steady decline in the nation’s feelings of connectedness to the coast, particularly in young people, was also confirmed by the comparative study of 9,000 people over the last decade. Only one in seven 18-24 year olds felt that their happiest childhood memory is being by the sea, which is half the national average.

Not having enough spare time was given as the biggest reason stopping people hitting the shores. Other barriers were that the coast is too busy when the weather is nice, too expensive and lacks easy transport links. Many people…

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Number of UK drownings at lowest since records began

The number of accidental drownings in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since records began.

There were a total of 338 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes across the UK in 2014, according to a report published today by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).

That number, from statistics published by NWSF, has fallen from 381 in 2013, and is the lowest figure since data collection began in 1983.

The NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID) breaks down drownings and other water-related deaths by activity, age and location type.

The highest proportion of those people who have lost their lives in 2014 did not intend to be in the water – the main activity being undertaken before they died was walking or running alongside water (138 deaths, predominantly in rivers and coastal water), while 36 people drowned while swimming in unsupervised places, the next leading cause.

Last year’s figures show that, like previous years, males (271) are more likely to drown than females (71), with a higher number of deaths for males than females in every single age bracket recorded.

Men aged between 25-29 are a particular concern, with 29 dying in 2014. Children aged up to 19 account for just over one in 10 of all deaths (38), with 21 of those in the 15-19 age bracket.

July saw the biggest spike in the number of deaths (43, up from 20 in June and 29 in August), while January was also a problem month, with 38 people killed.

George Rawlinson, chairman of the NWSF, said: “It’s really positive that we’re starting to see a decline in the numbers of accidental drownings but any loss of life is tragic and there’s more that we can do to reduce these figures further. WAID provides vital insight that helps interested groups shape interventions to protect those people most at risk.

“The NWSF and their respective organisations work tirelessly to promote education and water safety and together are now developing a strategy that could be adopted nationally; this will provide an important framework for identifying how improvements in safety and education could be made to tackle this problem.

A full copy of the UK Water-related Fatalities 2014 report can be viewed at:

MAIB Safety Digest: April 2015

The latest MAIB safety digest was published earlier in April with reports into nine recreational craft investigations.

According to the Steve Clinch, The Chief Inspector, failure to plan is common theme running through latest investigations:

The consequences of failing to properly plan a voyage on a large merchant ship are graphically described in Case 2 but Case 20 describes a similar outcome, this timenarrowboat_a on a leisure vessel. Previous Safety Digests have regularly highlighted the importance of wearing lifejackets when working on the open decks of fishing vessels and leisure craft. Fitting spray hoods to lifejackets and investing in Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and an EPIRB can also save lives. Fitting a liferaft, even though one may not be required by regulation, is also a smart move – should the worst happen, why get wet when you can remain relatively dry and warm until help arrives?
Any accident can be life changing – not only for those directly involved but also for their colleagues and loved ones. Therefore, before commencing any potentially hazardous task, whether on deck, in the engine room, on a large ship or small, get into the habit of asking yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” then check that the necessary barriers are in place to protect yourself, the ship and everyone on board.
The full digest can be read here.

Message from George Rawlinson, new Chair of the National Water Safety Forum

I’m honoured to have been offered the post of Chair and willingly accepted it. The opportunities abound and I’m inspired by the future and NWSF’s quest to save more lives. I believe we can take NWSF to another level. By using the collective influence and collaborative power of all partners and members, we can raise its profile and make an even bigger societal impact throgeorge-rawlinsonugh water safety with the vital ‘WAID’ database and its outputs underpinning and informing our work. It’s so important to support, develop and use ‘WAID’ in the short medium and long term.

The achievements to date by our working groups are already impressive and on behalf of the coordinating group, I thank RoSPA in their role as secretariat, as well as, Tony Stammers who has been Acting Chair and Jim Watson Deputy Chair for their commitment and hard work. Both Tony and Jim will continue as deputies and I’m hugely grateful to them for their on-going support.

NWSF working groups and members provide expertise and advice to a wide range of people and organisations engaged in many different activities from beach to diving to inland waters. What excites me about the NWSF is its ability to harness and use this talent and strategic relations while respecting the aims and objectives of the individual organisations involved.

As the RNLI’s Operations Director I strive to draw on my 25 years of RNLI operational experience when thinking about the future and what we can all do to prevent drowning, promote a water safety culture and make a real difference to society and I recognise the value of collaboration. I’ve been fortunate to experience and benefit from a wealth of knowledge and expertise offered by other like-minded organisations. Through our combined efforts we can position the NSWF to play a key role in water safety and be the voice of authority on the subject.

Like the RNLI, I believe all members have an aspiration to prevent drowning and make the water safer for all. By galvanising our collective desire for a national strategy to tackle drowning, the NWSF coordinating group has already moved this initiative on significantly.

At December’s strategy workshop a plan was devised which will lead to a National Strategy. It’s impressive and a mark of commitment that a dedicated project group has now formed to progress these plans. The project group has started work in earnest to create the strategy ahead of a launch date set for a target after the General Elections.

The strategy is essential and creates an ideal platform for NWSF to demonstrate its leadership and role. It also ties into the World Health Organisation’s recent global drowning report where they are calling for nations to develop strategies that will address the problem estimated at 372,000 lives lost each year worldwide. With this in mind, the communications groups will be looking at how best to position the strategy and raise the profile of NWSF with all stakeholders to ensure our voice is heard.

So, there are exciting and busy times ahead and I’m looking forward to being even more involved with the NWSF work and plans for the future, as well meeting the people and organisations involved.

Thank you for all that you and your respective organisations do to support and further the aims and objectives of the NWSF. Please do not hesitate to make contact with me concerning the NWSF and its work.

George Rawlinson

River Basin and Flood Risk plans – Environment Agency consultations

The Environment Agency is seeking views on proposals to improve the water environment and protect communities from flood risk in England.

They would like your input on updates to river basin management plans and flood risk management plans. Once agreed, these plans will shape decisions, direct investment and action and deliver significant benefits for society and the environment.

River basin management plans set out long term objectives for the quality of the water environment. They identify the condition of rivers, lakes and coastal waters and the pressures on them. The plans provide evidence that will help those with an interest in the water environment to agree where improvements can be made.

Flood risk management plans describe the risk of flooding from rivers, the sea, surface water, groundwater and reservoirs. They set out how the Environment Agency, local councils and water companies will work together, with communities, to manage flood risk.

These links will also explain how to respond to consultations in river basin districts which cross borders with Scotland and Wales.

The formal closing date for the flood risk management plan consultation is 31 January 2015, while the river basin management plan consultations will run for six months, ending on 10 April 2015.

New UK Figures Reveal 381 Drowning and Other Water-Related Deaths in 2013

There were a total of 381 drownings and water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes across the UK in 2013, according to a report published today by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).

As in previous years, more than half of the deaths (227) in 2013 were in inland waters, such as tidal and freshwater rivers, lakes and reservoirs, while fatalities at the sea, on the beach or shoreline accounted for nearly a third (115). A further 22 deaths happened at harbours, docks, marinas and inland or coastal ports. Eight deaths occurred in the bath and six in swimming pools, while three happened in areas that are not normally watercourses such as marsh and flooded land.

The figures, which are published by the NWSF, include deaths in water that resulted from natural causes such as a heart attack, drowning or other fatal injuries resulting from falls into water and those that occurred during the course of water-based activities.

The NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID) breaks down drownings and other water-related deaths by activity, age and location type. It reveals that in 2013, the five-year age group with the highest number of fatalities (31) was males aged between 20-24.

Meanwhile, 0-19s accounted for 12 per cent of deaths (46), of which more than half were teenagers aged 15 to 19 (27). In the youngest age bracket of four and under, 10 children drowned.

The peak summer months of July and August witnessed the most deaths with 106 during this period.   The leading activities were: people walking alongside water and falling in, swimming (predominantly in open water), and jumping into open water.

There were 260 deaths in England, 56 in Scotland, 41 in Wales and 11 in Northern Ireland. In England, the South West (53) and the South East (50) regions had the highest number of deaths. The full UK regional breakdown is as follows:

  • Scotland (56)
  • South West (53)
  • South East (50)
  • Wales (41)
  • North West (39)
  • Eastern (36)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber (20)
  • West Midlands (20)
  • London (16)
  • East Midlands (14)
  • North East (12)
  • Northern Ireland (11)
  • At sea (7)
  • Isle of Man (3).

Jim Watson, deputy chairman of the NWSF, said: “Although the number of accidental drownings and water-related deaths has remained consistent in recent years, there should be no room for complacency, particularly as we enter the warmer summer months and more people are drawn to the water.

“We encourage people to enjoy the UK’s waters, but to make sure they understand the risks and come home safely.”

A full copy of the UK Water-related Fatalities 2013 report can be viewed at:

WAID was developed by NWSF members, including: national partners – Canal and River Trust, British Sub Aqua Club, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the RNLI, RoSPA and the Royal Life Saving Society; sports governing bodies; and regional and local organisations, including Cornwall Council. It was developed in partnership with the Department for Transport.