Analysis of drowning incidents suggests that most people have a poor level of awareness of 'open water' safety issues. Anecdotal evidence suggests that generally people under-estimate the hazards presented by open-water. In a number of drownings the casualty enters the water in attempt to save someone else in difficulty. In the UK, even in the summer the sea temperatures rarely exceed 15C with inland lakes and lochs often colder.
On average there are between 450-600 drowning fatalities in the UK every year and inland waters account for 63% of these deaths. These figures are generated from data drawn from the RLSS/ROSPA drowning statistics database and the more recent National Water Safety Forum, Water Accident Incident Database (WAID).
What is Lifesaving
Lifesaving is the act involving rescue, resuscitation and first aid.
It often refers to water safety and aquatic rescue, and also includes flood and river rescue, swimming pool rescue, ice rescue and other emergency medical services.
The Royal Life Saving Society UK (to whom we are grateful for the use of the web copy herewith and their input this weeks report) is a registered charity with a vision 'To safeguard lives in, on and near water'. They are the governing body and leading provider of training and education in lifesaving, lifeguarding, water safety and life support skills in the UK. Their mission is 'To inform and educate everyone in water safety and resuscitation and to increase progressively the number of people trained in water rescue.' find out more at www.lifesavers.org.uk
The National Lifesaving Awards
The National Lifesaving Awards contain a number of award programmes which teach a variety of dry and aquatic lifesaving skills ranging from life support (CPR) to aquatic survival and rescue skills.
National Lifesaving Awards Programmes:
Rookie Lifeguard Programme (8-12yrs)
Survive and Save Programme (12yrs+)
Community Outreach Programme (all ages)
Life Support Programme (CPR) (all ages)
Heritage Senior Awards Programme (12yrs+)
Lifesaving 1, 2, 3 Programme (all ages)
The Royal Life Saving Society UK website www.lifesavers.org.uk contains a range of information on water safety - see a sample below - visit their website to learn more.
Open Water Swimming
Open water swimming takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as open oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, canals, and reservoirs.
Around 85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites. Many of these drownings occur due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the hazards at open water sites, and the lack of care and planning when visiting them.
If you want to try open water swimming, find a club that knows the best places to swim and has organised safety cover.
The basic principles of open water safety, combined with knowledge and understanding of the hazards, can increase enjoyment of open water and significantly reduce the number of incidents that occur each year.
Signs and Guidance
The conditions at open water sites change constantly:
Always look for warning and guidance signs.
Check the tidal activity when at the coast.
Take guidance from Lifeguards about the safest areas to enter the water.
Swimming, Paddling and Playing
Only enter the water in areas with adequate supervision and rescue cover (indicated by the red and yellow flags)
Swim parallel with the shore (not away from it)
Avoid drifting in the currents
Get out of the water as soon as you start to feel cold
Never enter the water after consuming alcohol
Always keep children under close supervision
Ensure that children's buoyancy aids fit and are worn correctly
Always take someone with you when you go into or near water. If something goes wrong they will be able to get help
Always notify someone about where you are going (into or near water), and what time you will return.
Take your mobile phone
Have a plan of what you will do if something goes wrong
Learn swimming and lifesaving skills
Even if the water appears to be clean, always wash with warm soapy water after being in open water (to wash any micro-organisms off your skin)
All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.