Tomorrow marks the start of Drowning Prevention Week, a campaign created by The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) aimed at helping everybody across the UK & Ireland #BeALifeSaver and enjoy the water safely. This week we are joined by Lee Heard, Charity Director of RLSS UK who tells us more about the campaign, the current situation and what we can do to keep our little ones safe around water.
“I’m excited for this year’s Drowning Prevention Week (DPW), now in its ninth year, as we look forward to offering alternative, digital ways to educate the UK and Irish public about water safety.
I write this blog emotionally drained, following what looks like nine fatal drowning incidents in as many days. That’s nine families devastated after unexpectedly losing a loved one. Something that will never leave them.
Much has been written in the press about a reduced beach lifeguard service this year, a direct impact of a very difficult situation brought on by COVID-19 and lockdown. Lifeguards either in pools, at beaches or at open water venues, certainly provide a much-needed lifesaving service should people need it, whilst out enjoying the water.
These lifeguards save lives every day.
Last year, we estimate that over 15,000 rescues were performed in pools by RLSS UK-qualified lifeguards. It is both worrying and unfortunate, that there is going to be a gap of lifeguard provision on UK and Irish beaches.
The simple message that we want to get across this summer, is for families and individuals to be cautious and take responsibility for their own safety around water, wherever that may be.
Helping people understand that there are always inherent risks associated with being in, on or near the water, regardless of ability or experience, is crucial to our work. It is worryingly common, that the general attitude to water safety can be a blasé one of contempt or over-familiarity. Maybe this is because we learn to swim in the controlled safety of a swimming pool, maybe it is because we have swum at the beach or at a local bathing spot, a countless number of times and everything was fine. In almost all cases where a life is tragically lost, the good swimming ability of the casualty is cited; it is therefore crucial that our campaign seeks to change risk-taking behaviour, and provides people with the skills and abilities, to manage their own safety and rescue.
Swimming is an incredible lifesaving skill but it needs supplementing.
As a Charity, the Royal Life Saving Society UK is positive and proactive, we embrace the UK and Irish culture of wanting to enjoy being around water. I see our role as empowering people with the skills, knowledge and decision-making tools, to enjoy the water safely and manage any associated risks, and this is where Drowning Prevention Week plays such an important part.
Make sure children can stay safe near water by teaching them simple precautions:
- Stop and think - encourage children to look for dangers whenever they are near water. Read all signs near water and only swim where there are lifeguard
- Stay together - never swim alone. Always go with family or friends
- In an emergency, shout for help and phone 999 or 112
- If you do fall in, float or swim on your back
Don’t forget that water safety begins at home:
- Fence off garden ponds
- Empty paddling pools after supervised use
- Supervise children’s bath time
- Join a swimming group that teaches babies and children the correct swim practice from an early age
- For peace of mind all parents should learn basic first aid and know CPR - book your class with Mini First Aid today
Join our Shared Media Campaign
Why not positively support Drowning Prevention Week by joining our ‘shared media campaign’. We are encouraging the water safety community and our partners, to be proactive and post out consistent water safety messages, to increase the reach of this crucial information.It is our goal to encourage 700 people to post, to represent the approximate number of individuals that lose their life to drowning across the UK and Ireland, each and every year. To make this easy, we have created nine key message templates. With one overarching theme ‘personal responsibility to learn how to enjoy the water safely’, built around the hashtag - #BeALifesaver
Find out more by clicking here
Thank you in advance for your dedication in supporting the campaign, as you contribute significantly to public safety this summer.