Swim England welcomes new guidance to help prevent drownings

A new free book offering guidance on how to help prevent inland water drownings has been welcomed by Swim England.

Safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has released the advice on how to manage sites in a bid to prevent tragedy.

Between 2012 and 2016, 1,029 people died in accidental drownings in the UK’s inland waters, which includes rivers, reservoirs, canals, lakes, lochs, harbours, ponds and streams.

RoSPA’s Safety at Inland Waters is aimed at those with responsibility for managing land adjoining inland waters and provides a run-through of relevant water-related risks, a manager’s legal priorities, including case law, and offers a number of case studies of good management of waterside spaces.

Swim England works closely with partners to keep water safety high on the national agenda. 

The organisation and the RNLI will this year again be staging Swim Safe sessions, which teach children aged seven to 14 how to have fun and stay safe in or near open water.

In 2018, more than 19,000 youngsters took part in Swim Safe sessions at 29 sites across the country

Jon Glenn, Learn to Swim director at Swim England, said: “We are delighted to support RoSPA’s new guidance on preventing inland water drownings.

“As the national governing body, ensuring people are safe in the water is of paramount importance.

Delighted to deliver Swim Safe

A Swim Safe session at Lake Windermere

“We have been working with national and local partners to ensure every child has an opportunity to learn to swim as it is such an important life skill.

“So we are delighted to be delivering Swim Safe, in partnership with the RNLI, once again in 2019. These sessions will provide the opportunity for young people to learn more about cold water shock and self-rescue techniques in open water situations.”

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager and author of the book, said: “Over the five years from 2012, 60 per cent of drownings were at inland water sites so clearly this is an issue that urgently needs addressing.

“There is something that all stakeholders can do to reduce the risks, and by working together we can drive down the number of people needlessly dying in the UK’s waters every year. 

“I hope that Safety at Inland Waters will enable all managers with a responsibility for such sites to better understand and manage risks, and that it acts as a catalyst for further reductions in drownings.”

Steve Birtles, chairman of the National Water Safety Forum Inland Waters Group and head of safety management at The Broads Authority, said: “We welcome this new edition that has drawn on the expertise and experience of a wide range of organisations who are directly involved with the management of public safety on inland waters.

“It has been designed to help landowners and managers learn about best practice and some of the simple measures that they can take to mitigate the risk of drowning, to help them obtain a clearer understanding of the extent of their responsibilities and appreciate the wide range of resources that are available to support them. 

“Most importantly, I hope that they will recognise from the various case studies and examples that they will not be alone when working on drowning prevention.”

Adrian Lole, director at the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), said: “We are happy to have collaborated on this guidance and we are hoping this clarifies duties for landowners.”

The book is free to download.

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