At the latest meeting of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), the strategy working group discussed proposals for a new UK Drowning Strategy for 2016-26.
On 21st October, members from across the industry, including representatives from STA, RoSPA, RLSS, ASA, the RNLI, BSAC, MCA, Canal and Rivers Trust, and the CFOA (Chief Fire Officers Association) met to discuss how together, they can combine their knowledge and expertise to help shape the aims and principles of this strategy.
Each year in the UK there are on average 400 water-related accidental deaths. The aim of the new strategy is to reduce this figure by 50 per cent by 2026, by targeting high risk groups and communities.
At the meeting, George Rawlinson, the Chairman of the NWSF, spoke about the need for a strategy to help reduce the number of drownings in the UK and work towards a future without drownings.
Collaboration is essential if we are to succeed in reducing fatalities around the waters of the UK.
Kayle Burgham, STA’s Technical Manager for Aquatics, said:
For us involved in the aquatic and lifesaving professions, we understand all too well the importance of learning to swim and water safety education – with drowning being the 3rd highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK.
But sadly these headline figures can be easily forgotten without sustained awareness and education; with a cohesive approach to drowning prevention through this strategy, we can use our combined knowledge and resources to target the highest risk groups and reduce drownings.
To put the importance of water safety education into perspective, we recently compared water-related fatalities with fire-related deaths and drink-driving deaths in UK – fire safety awareness and the dangers of drink-driving are probably two of the most high profile campaigns seen by the public year in year out.
The statistics may surprise you: In 2014 there were 633 water-related fatalities (includes 338 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes) – compared to 260 drink-driving fatalities and 322 fire-related deaths.
All these statistics need to be reduced further, but it does show that with heighted awareness what can be achieved with a more powerful, united approach to drowning prevention. added Kayle.
Further details on the strategy will be released in early 2016.
- Water Safety, Health & Wellbeing