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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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02/06/2020

Launch of RNLI and MCA Beach Safety campaign

Dear Member

Like us, you'll no doubt be concerned about the level of activity that we might see around our coastline this summer as the Government eases its lockdown restrictions.

Coupled with a lack of lifeguard provision, we fear that we may experience a rise in the number of incidents and drownings.

In response to this, the RNLI and MCA are launching a Beach Safety campaign ahead of this May Bank Holiday weekend.

Through the campaign, they will be issuing advice on family supervision, inflatables, and the need to dial 999 for the coastguard in an emergency.

Please keep an eye on the RNLI's social media channels in the run up to this weekend, including its Facebook page, and help to share these important messages with your own audiences.

George Rawlinson

Chairman

NWSF


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