The summer of 2020 has been like none other before it.
Since the last National Water Safety Forum newsletter went out, many restrictions on activities on and near the water have been lifted. With this has come significant challenges for our emergency services and the members of the National Water Safety Forum.
During the August heatwave, most days beaches in some parts of the country were as busy as they would be on bank holidays, with lifeguards reporting record numbers of visitors. Last month, the coastguard issued a warning as they received highest number of call-outs in a single day for more than four years.
Tirelessly, members of the National Water Safety Forum have risen to the occasion despite having to deal with their own lockdown challenges. Through running bold and innovative awareness-raising campaigns, relevant to both coastal and inland waters, forum members been getting life-saving water safety messages out to the public. All those involved can be truly proud of their efforts and in this newsletter, we have highlighted just some of that great work.
As we enter into a new season, we will be reflecting upon the lessons from this summer and challenges for the coming six months.
Until next time,
National Water Safety Forum
Accidental drowning deaths continue to fall across the UK
Earlier this summer, the National Water Safety Forum released the Water Incident Database (WAID) figures for 2019, which revealed that there were 223 deaths in UK waters from accidents or natural causes, a decrease of 40 from the previous year.
This represents a continuing downward trend in the number of accidental deaths in the country’s waters, and a 25 per cent decrease since 2016, when the forum launched the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy.
New guidance for beaches amid COVID-19 pandemic
A document has been produced for coastal beach managers and landowners, including councils and private organisations, and reflects the current experience of members of the National Water Safety Forum and other interested parties who seek to reduce drowning and water-related harm in the UK.
Specifically, it is concerned with the following aspects of beach safety: mitigating the risk of fatal and non-fatal drowning and water-related injuries; the challenges and practical considerations of seeking to maintain social distancing at the beach; and assisting duty holders with the obligation to update their risk assessments and to consult with staff/volunteers on the implications.
The current document and other COVID-19 related advice can be accessed here
Between June 12-19, The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) held its Drowning Prevention Week - an annual outreach event which helps educate millions of people across the UK and the Republic of Ireland about how to stay safe on and near water.
In previous years, members and supporters of RLSS would deliver practical water safety lessons across the country as a part of the week, but social distancing measures made it necessary to provide this training online. RLSS produced water safety lesson videos, which more than 20,000 people accessed. Over the course of the week, more than 21million saw and heard stories which contained life-saving water safety messages in the media.
Swim England publishes Returning to the Pool guidance
Ahead of the reopening of pools in England, Swim England published its comprehensive Returning to the Pool guidance.
Operators, casual swimmers, clubs, coaches, teachers and those attending swimming lessons can now see how we will have to adapt to a "new normal" to ensure the safety of everyone visiting and working at facilities.
The guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines, and will be regularly updated to reflect any changes announced in the future.
This summer, with more people choosing to take a domestic holiday, some British beaches have reported record numbers of visitors. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) cannot provide a patrol on every beach, so has made a huge amount of effort to spread key water safety messages.
The RNLI produced an impactful video, Float to Live, which provides clear and life-saving advice about what to do if you accidentally enter open water. Most recently, the RLNI partnered with LadBible to promote a film which demonstrated the dangers of tombstoning and cold-water shock. The film has made a huge splash by clocking up over 1million views and 1,000 shares on Facebook.