At 4 Leisure Recruitment, we are acutely aware of the importance of drowning prevention work – the demand for qualified lifeguards is growing year on year with peak demand happening around spring and early summer. This year has been no different, and it’s clear to us that more and more lifeguards will be needed in the future as the popularity of swimming, particularly of the outdoor variety, booms.
Drowning Prevention Week is a national annual campaign which aims to raise awareness of water safety. It has been set up by Royal Life Saving Society UK and runs from the 16th to the 26th of June 2017. The campaign aims to reduce death and injury by drowning by spreading awareness of water safety issues.
Did you know – around 400 people drown every year in the UK? This is more than from road cycling accidents.
The UK Drowning Prevention Strategy
The UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016 – 2026 has been developed in collaboration with members of the National Water Safety Forum strategy working group, with the aim of reducing accidental death through drowning by 50% by 2026 in the UK.
You can download the report here – file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/uk-drowning-prevention-strategy.pdf
So how can accidental drownings be prevented?
First of all, it’s good to see that few recommendations from the report suggest an overhaul of the current lifeguarding system in the UK, either outdoor or indoor. Creating a safe environment for leisure swimmers to swim is essential and lifeguards play a key role in this, but the incidence of drowning in supervised pools is relatively low. Many of the recommended safety measures such as barriers to keep young children from entering water are already in place at managed pools. Lifeguards and pool managers have done great work in reducing the number of drownings amongst leisure swimmers, and continue to do so.
2-in-3 accidental drownings occur in inland open water, such as in rivers, reservoirs, and quarries. In some of these cases, the victim intended to enter the water such as to take part in risky watersports. However, many of these were to people who had no intention of entering the water, and this is where more awareness work needs to be done.
There are groups which are more vulnerable to drowning than others, and groups which have a higher incidence of death from drowning.
- Males account for around 80% of drownings in the UK. Males are significantly more likely to die by drowning than females in every age category except from those aged 90 and over.
- While young children are vulnerable to drowning because of immature swimming skills, the age group most likely to die from drowning are those aged 20 to 29, again particularly males.
The UK Drowning Prevention Strategy recommends
- Every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school and where required at Key Stage 3
- Every community with water risks should have a community-level risk assessment and water safety plan
- To better understand water-related self-harm
- Increase awareness of everyday risks in, on and around water
- All recreational activity organisations should have a clear strategic risk assessment and plans that address key risks.
The lifeguards out there are, on the whole, doing an amazing job of keeping leisure water users safe. Considering the huge numbers of people who swim for leisure, and take part in activities such as surfing, the relatively low casualty rate is reassuring.
More work needs to be done to manage safety around open, unsupervised water, and to educate specific groups about potential dangers in the everyday environment around them. Raising awareness among teenage and 20-something males about the dangers of consuming alcohol and walking home close to open water for example, would be a good use of resources. If you are in this age group, or know someone who is, then use Drowning Prevention Week to educate yourself on the dangers.
You can follow and support Drowning Prevention Week on social media using #DPW #STOPDROWNING
RLSS UK have some great advice for keeping safe at home, at the pool, and on the beach at http://www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/water-safety/
Already a lifeguard? 4Leisure would love to hear from you! – Full and part time hours available – speak To Latoya Bailey on 01895 450640 or email Latoya@4leisurerecruitment.