The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), the UK’s drowning prevention charity, is today reflecting on a summer of drownings as this year has seen a tragic 48 UK citizens reportedly drown in UK waters and abroad this summer*.
With another summer of tragic loss, the charity is calling for people to take note of water safety advice to prevent any further tragedies as the season closes.
RLSS UK Chief Executive, Di Steer said: “With 7,723 miles of coastline around the UK as well as 387 lakes and 2,200 miles of canals and rivers it is vital that people understand the dangers of water.
“Any drowning is a tragedy but the number of people who have lost their lives recently is not only extremely sad but is extremely worrying.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of each drowning victim at this difficult time as their lives have now changed forever.”
Each year drowning figures reveal a spike in drownings over the summer months and this summer has followed the tragic trend with 48 people losing their lives – 15 deaths abroad and 33 deaths in UK waters. At its peak, this summer saw six people drown in a single week in August.
Drowning victims include; five friends, Kenugen and Kobikanthan Saththiyanathan, Nitharsan Ravi, Inhushan Sriskantharasa and Gurushanth Srithavarajah who died at Camber Sands, East Sussex last month. Two-year-old, McKayla Bruynius and her father Rudy Bruynius who both died after been caught by a large wave at Fistral beach in Newquay, Cornwall, last month.
Stephen Turner, 61, from North Wales, got into difficulty while on holiday with his American girlfriend and her daughter at Lake Sutherland in Washington State. Four-year-old Blossom Kelly from Skelmersdale in Lancashire died after drowning in a swimming pool during a family holiday in Girona, Spain. And, a 84-year-old woman died after being rescued from the sea near Dingwall in the Highlands.
Around 400 people needlessly die from drowning in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life-changing, through near-drowning experiences. Putting these figures into context, this is the equivalent of one person drowning every 20 hours in the UK. Drowning in the UK accounts for more accidental fatalities annually than fire deaths in the home or cycling deaths on the road***.
In 2015, 321 people drowned in the UK and of that number, 117 of those died at the coast and 135 died in inland water**.
“We want people to listen to our safety messages – advice that could mean the difference between life and death.
“Our 10,000 strong volunteer force will continue their work to spread water safety messages and teach lifesaving skills within their local communities and we will continue to campaign to help stop preventable deaths,” Di Steer added.
Follow the below advice and take note of the dangers –
Swim at unsupervised (lifeguarded sites)
Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature
Jump into the water from extreme heights
Swim into deep water which will be colder
Ever leave children unattended near or in water
Swim at supervised (lifeguarded) sites
Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety
Swim with friends or family, so that you can help each other if you need to Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming Think about what you will do if something goes wrong Contact a reputable outdoor pursuits or coasteering centre if you want to take part in more extreme activities
Dangers of open water include:
The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning
The depth of the water – this changes and is unpredictable
Submerged objects may not be visible
Obstacles or other people in the water
Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue
The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water
Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
Uneven banks and river beds
Water quality e.g. toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.
If someone is in difficulty in the water:
Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety
The charity also offers a counselling service for those affected by drowning and near-drowning experiences. To access this service or for more information, please contact Porcha Treanor on 01789 774495.
For more information on RLSS UK and water safety –
Visit our website at www.rlss.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter – @RLSSUK
Visit our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/RLSSUK
Call – 0300 323 0096