HWFRS backs national Drowning Prevention Week to help people stay safe around water

Drowning Prevention Week blog cropped

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is again urging parents to make sure their children know how to stay safe and enjoy the water this summer.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), more than 400 people die each year in the UK and Ireland from accidental drowning, with most deaths occurring in June, July and August. 

The UK has seen a rise in the number of drownings over the last few years.

In 2021, research by the National Water Safety Forum showed that 40% of accidental drowning fatalities never intended to enter the water.

In Herefordshire and Worcestershire there were 681 incidents involving rescues from water between 1 Jan 2012 and 31 Dec 2021. Sadly, there were 42 fatalities within this time period.

HWFRS is therefore supporting RLSS UK’s national Drowning Prevention Week
campaign, this year running from 18-25 June 2022, which aims to ensure everyone knows how to have fun and stay safe near water.

Drowning Prevention Week aims to equip everybody across the UK and Ireland with the skills and knowledge, to make the right decisions about water safety.

RLSS UK is helping providing resources to pool operators to reduce the number of accidental drownings, with a particular focus on children and young people this year.

Resources range from Save a Life workshops and water safety fun days for primary schools to bespoke dry or wet side events and lifeguarding skills and challenges. (All resources are freely available on the RLSS UK website at www.rlss.org.uk.)

RLSS UK’s 10 Drowning Facts

  • Around 44% of accidental drownings happen between May and August
  • Over 80% of those who drown are male
  • Only 30% of parents surveyed were very confident their child knows how to stay safe in and around water
  • Over 46% never intended to be in the water
  • Over 62% of accidental drownings happen in inland water
  • Around two thirds of UK adults surveyed have never had any water safety formal training or education
  • 402 UK and Irish citizens accidentally drown on average each year
  • Lack of confidence affects these survival rates
  • People aged 16 – 30 account for 23% of drowning fatalities
  • 80% of black children and 95% of black adults do not swim

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said:

“We are proud to play our part in ensuring families in Herefordshire & Worcestershire have a safe summer. We recognise how vitally important it is for children to know how to stay safe near water, and urge parents to access RLSS UK’s free water safety resources on the Charity’s website.

“Now that summer has arrived and more people are heading to the countryside in our two counties and further afield, I would urge everyone not to swim in lakes, rivers or quarries.

“These can be particularly perilous, with the water temperature much colder below the surface and concealing unseen but dangerous objects.”

Lee Heard, The RLSS UK’s Charity Director said:

“It’s vital that everyone has an understanding of water safety, especially during the summer months. In July 2021, there were 49 accidental drowning fatalities in the UK in just two weeks.

“But we know that with the right water safety knowledge, accidental drownings are avoidable.

“In a recent survey, over 55% of parents said they would not be confident their child would know what to do if they fell into open water; this is something we want to change.

“These new resources will help operators to engage with new audiences, while educating people, particularly youngsters, about water safety and potentially saving lives.”

Visit www.rlss.org.uk
to access the Charity’s free water safety resources, and www.hwfire.org.uk/safety-and-advice/water-safety/ to see our water safety guidance.

There is also useful advice on the RNLI’s website at https://rnli.org/see their ‘Float to Live’ advice at RNLI releases vital safety warning ahead of heatwave | RNLI
for invaluable water safety messages during the current hot weather and throughout the busy summer period.