New report highlights importance of teaching water safety
New figures, which show how many deaths there are in or near water in the UK, have highlighted the need to learn to swim, and be confident in the water,
More than 400 people died from accidents or natural causes in water across the UK in 2009, according to the first report from the WAID (the Water Incident Database) system, which captures for the first time ever the full range of water incidents.
WAID was developed by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to enable greater detail on fatal and non-fatal drownings, other water-related deaths and injuries, and near misses.
Of the 405 fatalities in 2009, more than half (213) came as a result of incidents in inland waters, which include rivers, lakes, lochs, reservoirs, canals and ponds.
Under-19s accounted for 59 of the fatalities, of whom 14 died as a result of incidents in rivers (predominantly teenagers), seven in baths (mostly 0-2 year olds) and six in ponds.
Even though deaths happened during a wide variety of water-based activities, 48 of those who died were swimming at the time of the incident.
While the most commonly-reported activity, someone entering the water while walking or running to cool off or by falling etc, accounted for 78 fatalities.
David Sparkes, the ASA’s Chief Executive, said this highlighted how important it was for people, and youngsters in particularly, to know the basics of water safety.
“Being able to swim and swim well is so important because ultimately swimming is the only sport that can save your life.
"But children also have to be aware that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool," David Sparkes explained.
"The ASA aims to give children the water safety skills they need when on or near these waters by working with schools and pool operators to make sure water safety is a key part of swimming lessons. We also want as many children as possible to learn to swim and swim well as part of compulsary lessons in primary school.
To read more about the WAID report visit http://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/.