May Bank Holiday 2013, need for life-saving water safety tips

May Bank Holiday 2013, need for life-saving water safety tips

With the bank holiday weekend heralding the first spell of warm weather this year, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is warning families how to stay safe in and around water.

During periods of hot weather, the number of accidental drownings sadly rises, particularly when coinciding with weekends, school holidays and national celebrations such as bank holidays.

RoSPA, the leading accident prevention charity in the UK, wants families to enjoy the holiday weekend but also be extra vigilant around inland waters, such as rivers, lakes, lochs, quarries and reservoirs, which can be more dangerous than they appear.

Latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) show that in 2011, 407 people drowned from accidents or natural causes in water across the UK, with 219 of these (54 per cent) at inland waters.

Water-related deaths for children and young people up to the age of 19 reached 47 in 2011. Nearly half of these – 22 deaths – were in the 15 to 19 age group, and predominantly in a river or lake, according to the data from the NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID).

Dave Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “When the weather hots up, many people especially teenagers, are tempted to go swimming in rivers, lakes and other inland waters, but they need to be aware that these have many unseen hazards.

“Water can be a lot colder than you are expecting and there may be strong currents and underwater debris. Around a tenth of accidental drowning deaths in the UK involved children who were swimming or playing in open water in 2011, so it is important for parents to remember that properly-supervised sites, such as lifeguarded beaches, lidos and swimming pools, are by far the safest place to swim. Make sure you know what to do if something goes wrong but also be honest about your ability to look after yourself and others around you.”

RoSPA has put together the following water safety tips:
· Swimming at properly-supervised sites, such as beaches, lidos or swimming pools, is best, although RoSPA appreciates that not everyone can get to these locations
· If you choose to go to an unsupervised site, think through the hazards first and ensure you know what to do if something goes wrong
· One of the hazards to consider is that water can be a lot colder than you are expecting so be careful if you jump in or go for a swim to cool off. Also, there may be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank
· Before you get into the water, consider how you are going to get out again
· Be honest about your swimming ability
· Remember that alcohol and swimming never mix
· Parents and carers: discuss the hazards with your children and remind them that children should never swim alone at unsupervised locations.

For more safety tips and advice, see RoSPA’s Water Safety for Children and Young People fact-sheet on rospa.com.

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