Public Health Wales child drowning review published

A new report by the Child Death Review Programme at Public Health Wales has found a link between drinking alcohol and drowning among young people. The report also suggests that closer and appropriate adult supervision may help prevent drowning in some cases.

The ‘Thematic review of deaths of children and young people through drowning’ includes recommendations to support the prevention of deaths from drowning.  A key recommendation emerging from the report is that organisations in Wales need to work together in a new national forum to improve water safety.

The report also highlights the need for consistent guidance on safer bathing for children and young people with epilepsy and their carers, and to support healthcare professionals.  There is currently no widely shared consensus advice on safer bathing for people with epilepsy.

The thematic review looked at the deaths of children and young people from birth to 24 years between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2014.  26 deaths were considered in the review, which included individuals who were normally resident in Wales or died within Wales.

The report finds that majority of deaths occurred in older children and young people, with 21 deaths (81 per cent) occurring in individuals aged 12–24 years.  These deaths tended to occur in open water environments.

Five of the deaths (19 per cent) were children aged 11 years or under.  These deaths tended to occur in closed water environments, like pools.

The report also finds that the majority of deaths were in males, with 21 (81 per cent) occurring among this group.

Almost one third of deaths (31 per cent, eight of the 26) may have been linked to possible alcohol consumption.

The report also advises:

  • Organisations in Wales should have common messages on water safety, appropriate to the setting
  • There are interventions that may encourage safer swimming or prevent unintended contact with water, like self-latching gates around pools
  • Education on how pool-based lessons relate to open water could be included in Welsh Government efforts to ensure every child in Wales is able to swim
  • Planning is needed in Wales to take forward the UK national drowning prevention strategy (2016–2026) goal of producing publically available community-level risk assessment and water safety plans
  • Holidaymakers at home and abroad could be encouraged to be more aware of water safety, supported by the tourist industry routinely providing advice and guidance on water safety
  • There are opportunities to improve sharing of data, and to look at how information is communicated to support prevention, including reports by coroners
  • Appropriate support for those involved in drowning events in Wales is important

The Child Death Review programme in Wales aims to identify and describe patterns and causes of child death including any trends, and to recommend actions to reduce the risk of avoidable factors contributing to child deaths in Wales.

More information about the programme is available on their website at www.publichealthwales.org/childdeathreview.

£915,000 boost to water rescue charities

Almost £1 million has been awarded by Maritime Minister Robert Goodwill today (18 February 2016) to 51 UK charities to support water rescue services in local communities.

The government scheme gives voluntary groups crucial funding for new equipment and training to support their rescue efforts on and around inland and inshore waterways.

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The money is for the purchase of lifeboats, launch vehicles, rafts and safety gear, as well as going towards training and other costs to support lifesaving efforts.

This is the second year of the 5 year scheme. In January 2015 more than £800,000 was awarded to 21 charities across the UK.

See the full recipients at www.gov.uk

 

 

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:  http://www.swimming.org/schoolswimming/asa-celebrates-school-swimming-anniversary/

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.

http://www.iosh.co.uk/News/IOSH-event-highlights-occupational-water-safety.aspx

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

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: www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/info/waid_fatalincidentreport_2014.xls

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