National Water Safety Forum welcomes UN’s Drowning Prevention Day
The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), a network of more than 50 organisations who work together in order to reduce water-related deaths and associated harm in the UK, welcomes the first World Drowning Prevention Day which will be marked on Sunday, July 25.
World Drowning Prevention Day was instigated following a UN General Assembly resolution passed in April 2021, which affirmed the fact that drowning is preventable, and stresses the need for member states to have a coordinated response. The awareness day will be held annually on July 25.
According to figures compiled by the World Health Organisation, globally, an estimated 235,600 people drown every year, and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years around the world.
Commenting on the eve of the first World Drowning Prevention Day, Dawn Whittaker, NWSF chair, said: “Tomorrow, individuals and organisations from across the globe will be marking the first World Drowning Prevention Day and speaking with one voice to say that anyone can drown, but no one should.
I know I speak for all members of the National Water Safety Forum when I say that I welcome the UN resolution on drowning prevention and this new awareness-raising day which is all the more poignant because of the recent spike in accidental drownings during the hot weather this month. I look forward to seeing the impact of World Drowning Prevention Day in the years to come.”
The latest figures from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF, show that in 2020 there were 254 accidental drownings and 631 total water-related fatalities in the UK.
Last year, almost half (43 per cent) of those who accidentally drowned had no intention to enter the water, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or being swept in by waves. Inland open waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning with 58 per cent of incidents taking place in these settings.
The UK has a drowning prevention strategy, with equivalents for Wales, and Scotland, which aims to reduce accidental drowning fatalities as well as contributing to the reduction of water-based suicide. The strategy was produced by members of the National Water Safety Forum including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
Carlene McAvoy, leisure safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “Since the launch of the National Drowning Prevention Strategy in 2016, great strides have been made towards to reducing fatal water incidents in the UK. However, 254 people accidentally drowned last year which demonstrates there is still a lot more work to be done.
“RoSPA will continue to support the National Water Safety Forum and combine our efforts to help keep people safe on, and near, the water through the ‘Respect the Water’ campaign. World Drowning Prevention Day provides an unmissable opportunity to share life-saving water safety messages, but also gives us the chance to reflect on the progress made to reduce the number of accidental drownings in the UK, as well as allowing us to consider what further action needs to be taken.
The public are also reminded to ‘float to live’ if they find themselves getting into trouble in the water and to follow these steps: lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float, then get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming to safety.
If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999. If you are at the seaside ask for the coastguard, if you are inland, ask for the fire service.”
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Sunday July 25 2021.
Write it down on your calendar.
Put it in your phone.
This coming Sunday, individuals and organisations from across the globe will be marking the first ‘World Drowning Prevention Day’ and sharing the simple yet powerful message that anyone can drown, no on one should.
World Drowning Prevention Day was declared as part of UN General Assembly resolution passed in April 2021, which affirmed the fact that drowning is preventable and stresses the need for member states to have a coordinated response.
The Resolution requests all 193 Member States of the United Nations to do the following:
- Appoint a national focal point for drowning prevention
- Develop a national drowning prevention plan
- Develop drowning prevention programming in line with the WHO’s recommendations
- Ensure enactment and effective enforcement of water safety laws
- Encourage the registration of drowning deaths
- Promote drowning prevention public awareness
This global advocacy event will serve as an opportunity to highlight the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities all over the world and offer life-saving solutions to prevent it. An estimated 235,600 people drown every year and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years. More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells, domestic water storage vessels and swimming pools in low- and middle-income countries, with children and adolescents in rural areas disproportionately affected.
Specifically in the UK, progress has already been made in drowning prevention through work with the National Water Safety Forum, Water Safety Scotland and Water Safety Wales. The UK has a drowning prevention strategy (with devolved equivalents) which aims to reduce accidental drowning fatalities as well as contributing to the reduction of water-based suicide.
The NWSF wholeheartedly supports World Drowning Prevention Day and we will be encouraging all our members to get involved.
World Drowning Prevention Day will be held annually on July 25 and I look forward to seeing the impact that this awareness-raising initiative will have both in UK and overseas.
National Water Safety Forum
To find out more about World Drowning Prevention Day head here.
Help share the message by downloading our World Drowning Prevention Day social media assets and our list of suggested messages
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The very first World Drowning Prevention Day is taking place on Sunday July 25th. This follows on from the United Nations General Assembly affirming drowning as a preventable global public health issue. The full resolution can be read online here.
The NWSF supports World Drowning Prevention Day and urges all members to do the same by spreading the word about this worldwide issue by talking about it with both your own organisation and publicly via your networks and social media channels.
In preparation, we have launched a NWSF World Drowning Prevention Day webpage where you can find social media assets and suggested messages for your use.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also released guidance for organisations around the world which can be accessed online here.
We strongly recommend using the following hashtags in any social media posts:
and please tag us on twitter: @NWSFweb
Thank you in advance for your support on this very special day for all members of the NWSF and everyone in the wider drowning prevention community.
National Water Safety Forum
There are two water safety related events are taking place on Monday 12th July - please see below for further information and details on how to sign up:
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Water Safety Wales is urging parents to make sure their children know how to stay safe and enjoy the water this summer. Figures indicate that around 25 per cent of primary pupils leave school unable to swim, and experts fear that the enforced pool closures during the pandemic over the last year will leave many young people lacking the ability to swim or self-rescue.
The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), fears that with lockdown restrictions lifting, families will flock to beaches and inland water locations this summer without considering the potential dangers, putting themselves and others at risk.
In a call to action, members of the drowning prevention group Water Safety Wales have come together to support the RLSS UK’s National Drowning Prevention Week campaign, running from 19th to the 26 June 2021. The campaign aims to ensure everyone knows how to have fun and stay safe near water.
This joint campaign aims to reduce the number of water-related deaths and associated harm and is being supported by organisations from a wide range of sectors including sport governing bodies, rescue services, regulators, navigation and harbour authorities, local government, utilities and those representing quarry operators – all whom make up Water Safety Wales.
Drowning Prevention Week aims to equip everybody across the UK and Ireland with the skills and knowledge, to make the right decisions about water safety. Over 400 people accidentally drown in the UK and Ireland every year and many more suffer injury, sometimes life-changing, when they survive drowning.
Member of Water Safety Wales and Water Safety Lead for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Bleddyn Jones said: “We understand many have not been able to travel for a holiday over the past year due to the Government restrictions. If you are planning a staycation, whether that be a trip to the beach or enjoying Wales’ inland beauty spots near water please remember to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks. We urge the parents to remind their children not to ignore warning signs that are there to protect them. Even though the weather is warm, the water is still extremely cold, which can cause ‘cold water shock’ putting them at risk of drowning. There are also many hidden dangers within open water such as concealed rubbish and debris which can cause significant injuries, leading to water rescues by emergency services. Please urge your children to respect the water and stay safe.”
The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Charity Director Lee Heard, said: “The UK’s beautiful waterways should be places where everyone feels at ease, and can take pleasure from their surroundings, whatever their age, whatever their activity level. But we’re urging people to educate themselves on how to enjoy water safely, and prevent a fun day out ending in tragedy. The Drowning Prevention Week campaign is crucial this year. Throughout 2020 and 2021, young people have missed out on the vital opportunity to swim, leaving a dramatic gap in school swimming and water safety education. RLSS UK believes that through free, accessible education and training, everyone can enjoy water safely. We urge as many parents as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources, and give their children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water. Visit RLSS website to access the charity’s free water safety resources.”
Water Safety Wales have launched Wales’ first national Drowning Prevention Strategy, which aims to reduce water related deaths and incidents in Wales.
For the Welsh language version of this press release, please click here.
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