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.

Olympic diver launches bid to prevent drowning

Last week, British Olympic diver Nick Robinson-Baker launched a national campaign to reduce drowning and promote water safety. Nick, who became a lifesaver when he rescued fellow diver Monique Gladding from the water at a World Cup meeting in Russia last year, is spearheading the campaign by the Royal Lifesaving Society UK (RLSS UK).
The official launch of Water Safety Awareness Week, (which takes place June 16 to 24), comes following research revealed last month by Kellogg’s and the ASA that over a third of children are leaving primary school unable to swim 25 metres unaided. This is despite swimming being a statutory element of the National Curriculum and drowning being the third most common cause of accidental death in children.
RLSS UK hopes its national campaign will help to reduce the annual number of accidental deaths from drowning in the UK. Latest available figures, from the National Water Safety Forum, show that there were 420 accidental deaths from drowning in 2010 – one nearly every 17 hours.
Nick, aged 24, who is competing at London’s 2012 Games, said:
“Every drowning is a tragedy. With an average of 400 accidental deaths from drowning each year more needs to be done to raise awareness of how to be safe in, on and near water. I hope that this campaign can help to educate people about the potential dangers. This isn’t about telling people to stay away from water, but about knowing how to enjoy water safely, understand the risks and what to do in the event of a problem. I had a real wake-up shock when I had to rescue Monique last year. You never think that you’ll need to save someone in the water, and the truth is that I didn’t have a clue what to do, adrenaline took over, and luckily it turned out ok. Now I’d like to do whatever I can to convince people to become more aware that accidents in the water do happen and we should all know what to do if the worst does happen.”
Key safety tips being promoted during Water Safety Awareness Week include understanding beach flags and signs, taking time to check tide times and ensuring that you won’t be cut off when the tide comes in. At inland water sites, they include only swimming at lifeguarded lakes and always wearing a buoyancy aid when on the water.
Find out more about the campaign at the Water Safety Awareness Week website and follow the Week on Twitter at #WSAW2012. Find out more about the ASA’s School Swimming Manifesto and what you can do to raise awareness of learning to swim, go to the swimming.org website…

Children learn life saving skills

Children from around the country are being given the chance to learn about the dangers posed by open water this summer thanks to vital life-saving scheme Get Safe 4 Summer. The youngsters are being taught water safety skills at a number of pools from next week as part of Get Safe 4 Summer, an educational and water safety campaign run by the ASA with events supported by Swimathon Foundation.

The ASA’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign is all about raising awareness that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool.

The events teach children about the dangers of open water, as well as highlighting that swimming is the only sport that can save your life. ASA Chief Executive David Sparkes said: “The ability to recognise dangers and knowledge of water safety is just as important as being able to swim.  Particularly important during the summer holidays, the ASA’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign is all about raising awareness that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool.  We want everyone to be able to enjoy the water but in a safe and sensible way.”

Swimathon Foundation Chairman Anthony Kendall said: ” We are very pleased to support the ASA and The Swimming Trust in teaching youngsters about the importance of swimming and water safety.  It is exactly what we, as a Foundation, stand for.”
The events will consist of an action-packed few hours in the water with a host of fun and educational activities. They include attendance from the RLSS who are also running a Water Safety Awareness Week 16th-24th June.

Schools, leisure facilities and swim schools can get involved by holding their own Get Safe 4 Summer event.  Supporting resources are available to download online, including a Pool Event Pack with details of what, when and who should be involved, posters and certificates to reward the young people attending. Read more on the ASA website…

New research reveals one in three children leave primary school unable to swim

Learning to swim at an early age can ultimately go on to save a child’s life and with drowning being the third most common cause of accidental death in children, it’s concerning to learn that one in three children are now leaving school unable to swim.

The startling new research carried out by Kellogg’s and the ASA has revealed that around 200,000 children will leave primary school this summer unable to swim, amounting to an astonishing 2million non-swimmers over the next ten years.

Of those children unable to swim, nearly 40% have never been offered school swimming lessons despite it being a statutory element of the National Curriculum.

In response to the findings the ASA and Kellogg’s are today (Thursday 17 May) meeting with the government to urge parliamentarians, policy makers, local authorities and relevant organisations to prioritise the only sport that saves lives so every child has the opportunity to learn to swim irrespective of socio-economic and ethnic background.

The research also highlighted the role of parents in helping their children learn to swim and discovered that without school swimming many children would miss out completely on the chance to learn as one in six parents admits they never take their child swimming.

Other NWSF members were also involved with the event at the launch of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) school swimming strategy, a private event held at Westminster Hall. Representatives from RoSPA, Surf Life Saving GB and The Royal Life Saving Society UK were all at the event. Read more on the swimming.org website…

UK Water related fatalities 2010 WAID report: Reveals 420 deaths from accidents & Natural causes

There were 420 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes across the UK in 2010.

The report, which uses the WAter Incident Database (WAID), reveals that, as in previous years, the highest number of fatalities – 217 (52 per cent) – happened in inland waters such as rivers, canals, lakes, lochs, reservoirs and ponds.

Nearly a quarter of fatalities – 94 (22 per cent) – happened at the coast or in a harbour, dock, marina or port, while an additional 73 deaths (17 per cent) happened out at sea. Twenty-four fatalities were the result of incidents in baths (including jacuzzis or hot-tubs), six in swimming pools and six in areas that are not usually watercourses, such as flooded areas. Although fatalities were spread across every day of the week and every month of the year, Saturday was the most common day and April and June the most common months for fatalities to occur.

WAID was developed by the NWSF to enable greater detail and volume in the collection of data on fatal and non-fatal drowning, other water-related deaths and injuries, and near misses. It collects incident data from a wide range of sources including the emergency services, sports governing bodies, coastguard, rescue services, coroners’ courts, and press reports. WAID was developed by NWSF members, including: national partners – British Waterways, British Sub Aqua Club, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, RoSPA and Royal Life Saving Society; sports governing bodies; and regional and local organisations, including Cornwall Council. It has been developed in partnership with the Department for Transport.

The purpose of the database is to provide a comprehensive and reliable evidence-base for risks to the public from water-related activities which can be used to inform decisions on risk acceptability, prevention and the appropriateness of risk controls and regulation. The 2010 figures and the development of WAID will be discussed at the National Water Safety Seminar in Birmingham on April 26.

The UK Water related fatalities 2010 WAID report (PDF 784kb) is available here.

UK’s work on drowning prevention to be showcased at global event

A speaker from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents will be among those taking to the podium at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention next week. The conference, being held in Vietnam from May 10-13, aims to focus world attention on the global burden of drowning and how it can be reduced. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 388,000 drowning deaths worldwide each year. In the UK, drowning is among the leading causes of accidental death; in 2009, 405 people died from accidents or natural causes in water across the country.

Read more on the RoSPA website…

www.worldconferenceondrowningprevention2011.org

New Water Incident Database reveals 405 deaths across UK

More than 400 people died from accidents or natural causes in water across the UK in 2009, according to the first report from a new incident database.

WAID (the WAter Incident Database) was developed by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to enable greater detail and volume in the collection of data on fatal and non-fatal drowning, other water-related deaths and injuries, and near misses.

Of the 405 fatalities in 2009, more than half (213) came as a result of incidents in inland waters, which include rivers, lakes, lochs, reservoirs, canals and ponds. Nearly a quarter (99) happened at the coast or in a harbour, dock, marina, or port, while one in seven deaths (57) happened further out at sea. There were 19 deaths as a result of incidents in baths, five in swimming pools and one involving a water container. Eleven people died in places that are not usually watercourses, for example flooded areas.

Under – 19’s accounted for 59 of the fatalities, of whom 14 died as a result of incidents in rivers (predominantly teenagers), seven in baths (mostly 0-2 year olds) and six in ponds.

Deaths happened during a wide variety of water-based activities. Forty-eight of those who died were swimming at the time of the incident, 27 were angling and 20 were sub aqua diving. The most commonly-reported activity, however, which accounted for 78 fatalities, was someone entering the water while walking or running, for example to cool off or by falling. A further 17 fatalities happened after motor vehicles entered water.

Saturday was the most common day and August the most common month for fatalities to occur.

David Walker, a member of the NWSF and operations manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “As the figures for 2009 sadly reveal, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the UK. WAID will greatly enhance our understanding of water-related incidents that claim lives and cause injuries across the UK each year. Managing water risks is all about a balance between giving people freedom to make informed choices about how to enjoy water and the impact those choices have on society in general. By providing better information, WAID will assist in striking that balance and enable us to develop more effective prevention work. Working together to collect and share data means WAID members and communities will be able to better manage risks than if they worked alone.”

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

The full report is available to download in PDF format. More information about the WAID system can be found here.

Flying the flag for beach safety

Beach safety flags must now carry the same meaning whenever they are flown around the UK coast, delegates at the National Water Safety Congress will hear today. Organisations including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and Sport England were also members of the committee that produced the new standard.

They are also part of the National Water Safety Forum, which will take questions from delegates at this week’s congress. Read more on the RoSPA website…