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Swim England reiterate nationwide plea for people to #RespectTheWater this summer

Swim England has reiterated a nationwide plea for people to #RespectTheWater this summer after new figures revealed almost half of all accidental drownings in 2022 took place in June, July and August.

A total of 597 deaths in water were recorded last year in the UK – 226 of them accidental fatalities.

More than 100 (46 per cent) of those 226 occurred in a three-month period when the UK was engulfed in a heatwave.

The National Water Safety Forum’s (NWSF) Water Incident Database (WAID) logged that 60 per cent of deaths were at inland waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, and quarries.

Now, the NWSF has encouraged anyone who sees someone in trouble to follow a three-step plan if they see anyone in trouble in the water – call, tell, throw.

If you see someone in trouble in water:

  1. Call 999 – ask for Fire & Rescue if inland or the Coastguard if by the sea.
  2. Tell the struggling person to try to float on their back.
  3. Throw them something that floats.

Avoid another summer of heart-breaking headlines

Swim England has backed the safety advice issued by the NWSF in a bid to prevent further tragic instances in the coming months.

Jon Glenn, Swim England’s learn to swim and workforce director, also stressed the importance of people learning how to swim so they can be safe in and around water.

He said: “As we head into the summer, people become increasingly tempted to cool off in rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries.

“However, these waters can be fraught with danger.

“The temperature will always be much cooler than expected and, in some instances, dangerously cold even on extremely hot days.

“It’s devastating to hear of so many accidental tragedies that have led to lives being lost.

“Learning to swim is a vital life skill and it’s never too late to learn. Not only will it help keep you safe in and around water, it will mean you’ll also be in a position to help others should they get into difficulty.

“By ensuring we all #RespectTheWater, we can hopefully avoid another summer of heart-breaking headlines.”

Enjoy the water safely

The NWSF and Swim England will also be promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign later in the summer for World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July.

Dawn Whittaker, CEO of East Sussex Fire Rescue Service and NWSF chair said: “The extreme heat last summer presented considerable challenges at our coastal and inland waterways as more people entered the water to cool down.

“With another summer of unprecedented heat ahead, we are promoting the #RespectTheWater campaign to help people stay safe while still enjoying their time in and by the water.

“These devastating numbers are an annual tragic reminder about the importance of raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention, so we urge the public to understand the dangers and to learn the importance of knowing what to do in an emergency.

“If you see someone in trouble in the water, the best way you can help is by staying calm, staying on land, and following the three-step rescue guide – Call, Tell, Throw.

“We have seen increased numbers participating in water sports and water-based activities and consequently a rise of the number of incidents associated with activities such as stand-up paddle boarding and open water swimming.

“We want people to enjoy the water safely, so we will continue to focus on guidance, education, and awareness for the public.

“We will continue to work together to reduce deaths caused by drowning and water related injuries in the UK, and endeavour to reach our collective goal of halving accidental drownings in the UK by 2026.

“The global water safety community is onboard with a UN resolution recognising the scale and burden of drowning, calling for urgent international action.”

To find you nearest learn to swim provider, visit www.swimming.org/learntoswim/