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19/11/2020

November newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

Message from the Chairman


As we approach winter, severe gales have lashed our coasts and torrential rain has swelled rivers and lakes. This serves as a stark reminder of the unrelenting power of the weather and the risks it can present.

In our wake are the tragedies of hot summer days in, on, or around the water. So, the Forum's agenda is more important than ever. Thank you to all organisations and their Forum representatives for their individual and collective efforts to reduce drowning.

I would like to draw your attention to the Review of the Legal Responsibilities for Beach Safety which  was published earlier this month. I have been asked by the UK Government to lead a consultation on the report - I will be in touch with NSWF members about this in due course.

We remain focused too, on our ambition to replace WAID. Quite a challenge, but a high value reward at the end of it.

There is positive progress overall, and the Forum is in good shape to make a difference even during these challenging times, but we can always do better. Even more work to improve communications and to reduce water-related suicide is planned.

Let's keep our goals in sight and not sway from the task ahead.

Thank you for reading this newsletter. Ideas for its content and improvement are welcome.

George Rawlinson MBE
Chairman
National Water Safety Forum


Legal Responsibilities for Beach Safety Review


The Independent Review of the Legal Responsibilities for Beach Safety has now been published. The review, which was carried out by DWF on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, considers the legal framework and responsibility for water safety at the UK coast.

Issues such as the definition of a beach, current legal duties and emergency search and rescue response are all considered within the report. In addition, a number of recommendations are offered to help improve water safety:

Short term
1.       Update and consolidate guidance for managing beach safety. This task has been completed and the guidance can be found online here
2.       Engage in stakeholder management of this topic to drive solutions

Medium term
1.       Create a new legal duty to ensure beach safety
2.       Update the duties of the HM Coastguard to make them fit for the next 100 years

Long term
1.       Clarify that HSG 179 does not apply to the sea
2.       Consider if and how the Civil Contingencies regime could apply
3.       Consider changing the approach to beach lifeguarding and its long-term sustainability.

Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, Maritime & Security, has asked the NWSF chairman to run a consultation with members in order to gather the views on the possible merits or drawbacks of a new legal duty. The consultation on this will take place until January 2021 and as such, all members of the NWSF will be invited to participate in an online survey to provide their views.


Surf Life Saving GB and Coastguard announce partnership

 

This new partnership will see specially trained SLSGB club volunteers responding to incidents at the coast that require assistance under the direction and at the request of HM Coastguard.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and this past summer, which has seen high numbers of visitors to the UK coastline, SLSGB and HM Coastguard have worked closely together to provide additional safety support to the public with voluntary beach and inshore coastal patrols.


Forum Focus: Local Ambassadors


Ross MacLeod, public affairs manager for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), reflects on a successful life-saving outreach programme:

'This summer the RNLI faced unprecedented challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. With restrictions being eased the RNLI found itself in a position where our volunteer crews and lifeguards were needed more than ever.

Many coastal businesses are in areas where they encounter water users on a regular basis. The RNLI aimed to equip these businesses with the information and resources to enable them to deliver water safety messages and to know what to do if they saw someone in trouble.

We launched at the beginning of August with a short promotional social media film, which contributed to a significant number of signups.

To date, we have had 157 businesses sign up to be part of the scheme and there are plans in place to increase this further. Individuals can also sign up via the RNLI website, upon doing so they are provided with the information needed to have an informal conversation with members of the public, information about what to do if they saw someone if trouble, a simple poster with water safety messaging and a social media post for them to share via their platforms.'


NWSF chairman honoured for contributions to water safety


George Rawlinson, former RNLI Operations and Safety Director and current volunteer chairman of the  National Water Safety Forum, has committed to more than 29 years of lifesaving with the RNLI along with UK and Ireland Search and Rescue. He has been awarded with a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services.

George’s inspirational leadership was the driving force behind the UK’s first National Drowning Prevention Strategy in 2016 which was subsequently adopted by the Government. The strategy served as the foundation of many city, inland and coastal water safety forums. Since then, the UK’s drowning rate has steadily reduced.

A number of RLNI volunteers were also recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours.

 


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08/10/2020

September newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

Message from the Chairman

 

The summer of 2020 has been like none other before it.

Since the last National Water Safety Forum newsletter went out, many restrictions on activities on and near the water have been lifted. With this has come significant challenges for our emergency services and the members of the National Water Safety Forum.

During the August heatwave, most days beaches in some parts of the country were as busy as they would be on bank holidays, with lifeguards reporting record numbers of visitors. Last month, the coastguard issued a warning as they received highest number of call-outs in a single day for more than four years.

Tirelessly, members of the National Water Safety Forum have risen to the occasion despite having to deal with their own lockdown challenges. Through running bold and innovative awareness-raising campaigns, relevant to both coastal and inland waters, forum members been getting life-saving water safety messages out to the public. All those involved can be truly proud of their efforts and in this newsletter, we have highlighted just some of that great work.

As we enter into a new season, we will be reflecting upon the lessons from this summer and challenges for the coming six months.

Until next time,

George Rawlinson,

Chairman

National Water Safety Forum

 

Accidental drowning deaths continue to fall across the UK

Earlier this summer, the National Water Safety Forum released the Water Incident Database (WAID) figures for 2019, which revealed that there were 223 deaths in UK waters from accidents or natural causes, a decrease of 40 from the previous year.

This represents a continuing downward trend in the number of accidental deaths in the country’s waters, and a 25 per cent decrease since 2016, when the forum launched the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy.

 

New guidance for beaches amid COVID-19 pandemic

A document has been produced for coastal beach managers and landowners, including councils and private organisations, and reflects the current experience of members of the National Water Safety Forum and other interested parties who seek to reduce drowning and water-related harm in the UK.

Specifically, it is concerned with the following aspects of beach safety: mitigating the risk of fatal and non-fatal drowning and water-related injuries; the challenges and practical considerations of seeking to maintain social distancing at the beach; and assisting duty holders with the obligation to update their risk assessments and to consult with staff/volunteers on the implications.

The current document and other COVID-19 related advice can be accessed here

 

Drowning Prevention Week

Between June 12-19, The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) held its Drowning Prevention Week - an annual outreach event which helps educate millions of people across the UK and the Republic of Ireland about how to stay safe on and near water.

In previous years, members and supporters of RLSS would deliver practical water safety lessons across the country as a part of the week, but social distancing measures made it necessary to provide this training online. RLSS produced water safety lesson videos, which more than 20,000 people accessed. Over the course of the week, more than 21million saw and heard stories which contained life-saving water safety messages in the media.

 

Swim England publishes Returning to the Pool guidance

Ahead of the reopening of pools in England, Swim England published its comprehensive Returning to the Pool guidance.

Operators, casual swimmers, clubs, coaches, teachers and those attending swimming lessons can now see how we will have to adapt to a "new normal" to ensure the safety of everyone visiting and working at facilities.

The guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines, and will be regularly updated to reflect any changes announced in the future.

 

Float to live

This summer, with more people choosing to take a domestic holiday, some British beaches have reported record numbers of visitors. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) cannot provide a patrol on every beach, so has made a huge amount of effort to spread key water safety messages.

The RNLI produced an impactful video, Float to Live, which provides clear and life-saving advice about what to do if you accidentally enter open water. Most recently, the RLNI partnered with LadBible to promote a film which demonstrated the dangers of tombstoning and cold-water shock. The film has made a huge splash by clocking up over 1million views and 1,000 shares on Facebook.


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03/07/2020

NWSF publishes new guidance for beaches amid Covid-19 pandemic

 

Maintaining the safety of the public and staff on coastal beaches during COVID-19

This document has been produced for coastal beach managers and landowners, including councils and private organisations, and reflects the current experience of members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), and other interested parties, who seek to reduce drowning and water-related harm in the UK.   In developing this document, we have also sought the views of international colleagues facing similar challenges.

Specifically, it is concerned with the following aspects of beach safety

  • Mitigating the risk of fatal and non-fatal drowning and water-related injuries.
  • The challenges and practical considerations of seeking to maintain social distancing at the beach.
  • Assisting duty holders with the obligation to update their risk assessments and to consult with staff/volunteers on the implications.

The current document and other Coivid-19 related advice can be accessed here

 


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16/06/2020

Swim England publishes Returning to the Pool guidance

 

Swim England has today published its comprehensive Returning to the Pool guidance


The five detailed documents includes robust recommendations ahead of the Government giving the green light for a return to the water following the coronavirus pandemic. 


Click here to read the Returning to the Pool guidance 

Operators, casual swimmers, clubs, coaches, teachers and those attending swimming lessons can now see how we will have to adapt to a ‘new normal’ to ensure the safety of everyone visiting and working at facilities.


The guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines and will be regularly updated to reflect any changes announced in the future.

 

Swim England Chief Executive Jane Nickerson said: “While the guidance contains vital information on how to reopen facilities, unfortunately it doesn’t include the key date on when pools can open. 

“We will continue to lobby the Government for a reopening date but, ultimately, we have to be guided by them on this.

“However, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different.”

To read more about the Returning to Pool Guidance, click here.


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10/06/2020

Accidental drowning deaths continue to fall across the UK: 2019 WAID report

The number of accidental drowning deaths in the UK is continuing to fall, new data from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) show.

Latest figures from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF, reveal that there were 223 deaths in UK waters from accidents or natural causes in 2019, a decrease of 40 from the previous year.

This represents a continuing downward trend in the number of accidental deaths in the country’s waters, and a 25 per cent decrease since 2016, when the NWSF launched its UK Drowning Prevention Strategy.

The 10-year strategy aims to reduce the number of accidental drowning deaths by 50 per cent.

George Rawlinson, chairman of the forum, said: “We are pleased to see the number of accidental drowning deaths fall for another year. This is in part no doubt to the tremendous work of all of our partners in the forum as we work towards our target of a 50 per cent reduction in the 10 years from 2016.

“But one drowning is one too many and we always urge the public to look after their own safety, knowing that tragically, by the time the emergency services respond to an incident, the fatality may have already occurred.”

Just over one third (78) of all accidental drowning deaths happened at the coast/shore/beach, so families are being warned to take particular care if they are planning to head to the beach during the summer months – the most deaths happened in June, July and August.

George Rawlinson added: “This is no time for complacency, so as lockdown restrictions ease, we are reminding people that lifeguards can’t be everywhere this year, so think twice about entering the water as cold water and other hazards still present a significant risk.”

Despite the warm weather, the water will still be cold enough to cause cold water shock, which can incapacitate even the most capable swimmers who are not accustomed and acclimatised to open water conditions. Safety should always be the main consideration.

If you do get into difficulty in the water, remember to fight your instincts and float first. If you see someone in trouble in the water, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard, or the fire service if you are inland.

Drowning Prevention Week, a campaign from the Royal Life Saving Society UK, runs from June 12-19, and this year focuses on giving individuals and families the skills and knowledge they need to enjoy the water, safely. More information can be found at www.rlss.org.uk/drowning-prevention-week

WAID compiles statistics from across the UK from a number of sources including inquests, and breaks these down into deaths by activity, age, location type and geography, to give those working in drowning prevention and water safety a clearer idea of where to target interventions.

A full copy of the UK Annual Fatal Incident Report for 2019 can be found at www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/reports-and-data/

 


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There are 13 items on 3 pages.

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