Drowning prevention charity issues warning as the UK temperature rises

26 June 2018

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the drowning prevention charity, has issued a warning as temperatures across Britain are set to hit a scorching 30C.

The charity has appealed for people to take note of simple safety messages to avoid a repeat of previous summers when people losing their lives cooling off in unlifeguarded open water, not suitable for swimming.

So, with temperatures on the rise, it is important people make the most of the weather and enjoy the water but do so safely at sites designated for swimming.

RLSS UK’s Director of Research and Education, Mike Dunn, said: “In previous years we have seen a tragic amount of preventable deaths as people flocked to open water sites not suitable for swimming. These sites included rivers, quarries, lakes and reservoirs – all of which have many dangers including very cold water, currents, obstacles and uneven depths. They look so inviting but can be deadly.

In 2017, statistics reveal nearly 700 UK citizens lost their lives and each year, around 2,100 people in England alone are admitted to Accident and Emergency as a result of non-fatal drowning incidents with thousands more incidences occurring in Wales and Scotland.

This latest warning comes following media reports of two deaths on Monday (25 June) where a woman drowned yesterday swimming off Eastbourne, East Sussex and a man died after being seen struggling in a lake in Nutfield, Surrey.

Also, a child is reported missing after getting into difficulty in Westport Lake, Stoke-on-Trent. Two other children were rescued from the lake.

Mike added: “We want people to enjoy water, but safely and sensibly – using their common sense and listening to advice. Do not be tempted to cool off in open water, we do not want another summer of tragedy.”

Follow the below advice and take note of the dangers to avoid becoming one of the statistics –

Don’t:

  • Swim at unsupervised (un-lifeguarded sites) including lakes, quarries reservoirs and rivers
  • Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature
  • Jump into the water from heights or ‘tombstone’
  • Swim into deep water which will be colder

 

Do:

  • Swim at supervised (lifeguarded) sites
  • Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety
  • Swim with friends or family, so that you can help each other if you need to
  • Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming
  • Think about what you will do if something goes wrong
  • Contact a reputable outdoor pursuits or coasteering centre if you want to take part in more extreme activities

 

Dangers of open water include–

  • The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning
  • The depth of the water – this changes and is unpredictable
  • Submerged objects may not be visible
  • Obstacles or other people in the water
  • Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue
  • The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
  • Uneven banks and river beds
  • Water quality eg toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution

 

All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.

If someone is in difficulty in the water –

  • Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
  • Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float.
  • Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety

For more information and interview/spokesperson opportunities contact Vicki Hartley-Kite by emailing [email protected] or calling 0300 323 0096 Option 1.

 

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Ends

Notes to Editors:

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is the Drowning Prevention Charity.  We aim to prevent drowning through water safety education.

Through its trading subsidiary, IQL UK, there are more than 80,000 RLSS UK Pool Lifeguards in the UK trained in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). Around 95 per cent of all pool lifeguards are trained by the RLSS UK.

RLSS UK awards and programmes teach a range of lifesaving skills ranging from life support (CPR) to water survival and rescue skills. Programmes include Rookie Lifeguard, Survive and Save and Save a Baby’s Life (a free course aimed at parents and carers of young children).