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03/06/2021

June newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

Message from the Chair

It is a huge honour to be appointed Chair of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).  I very much look forward to working with all agencies and members who are supporting water safety and drowning prevention, both in the UK and beyond.

For those who don’t know me, I have been part of the NWSF coordinating group since 2013 as the lead officer representing the National Fire Chief’s Council.

I was involved in the group that helped develop the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy and I was also previously Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS).

In my day job as a Chief Fire Officer in East Sussex, I know all about prevention being better than the cure. This ethos underpins my advocacy for water safety and leads me to seek greater collaboration to achieve better outcomes, with a focus on risk.

I am also passionate about supporting families who have lost loved ones in the water and I remain in awe of the fantastic work they do to support the UK drowning prevention effort.

Inclusion is another key driver for me. I think everyone should be able to benefit from the physical and health benefits that can be gained from being in, on, and by the beautiful water locations in the UK.

I was born and bred in Wales, so I know a thing or two about beautiful rugged coasts and glorious inland lakes and rivers, making me equally committed to both being safe to visit for all.

I hope to meet and engage with many of you during the coming months. However, please be assured that if we don’t get to meet, I will be working hard with the other members of the NWSF co-ordinating group to ensure the delivery of our collaborative aims.

You may have noticed a few changes to the format of this newsletter, if you have any feedback or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact info@nationalwatersafety.org.uk.

As a final note, on behalf of all members of the NWSF I would like to thank our previous Chair, George Rawlinson MBE, for his dedication and service.

 

Until next time,
Dawn Whittaker
Chair of the National Water Safety Forum.

Accidental drowning figures 2020


The water incident database (WAID) figures for 2020 are now available.

Key accidental drowning death WAID insights include:

1. Inland open waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning and unintended entry into the water with a total of 58% (N=139).

2. Males continue to over represent with 78% of deaths (N=199).

3. Almost half (43%) of people had no intention to enter the water, such as those walking, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves (N= 107).

You can access the figures via our new interactive report, which allows users to visualise water-related incidents by local authority area, as well as explore how demographic factors, such as age and gender, impact on accidental drowning and unintentional entry into open water.

The interactive report contains information relating to UK water incidents that were reported between 2014-2020.

 

Speaking with one voice: #RespectTheWater


Following a concerning increase in water-related deaths in 2020, over 50 organisations, for the first time, issued coordinated water safety advice for those visiting and enjoying waterways and coastlines as part of the #RespectTheWater campaign. This joint campaign, run by the NWSF, aims to reduce the number of water-related deaths and accidents.

In a call to action, members of the NWSF are asking everyone to support and promote the national #RespectTheWater campaign, to reduce drowning this summer. You can find the branding guidelines here.

The national campaign aims to provide simple lifesaving advice, which can help members of the public take personal responsibility for their own, and for their family’s safety by remembering these lifesaving tips:

1. If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live. 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.

2. If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112. If you are at the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland, ask for the fire service.


At present several organisations have already adopted the Respect The Water campaign. Respect The Water messaging will feature in the Royal Life Saving Society's Drowning Prevention Week (19th-26th June) and was mentioned in The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard joint beach safety campaign.

The NWSF marketing and communication group has been re-established and will soon be looking at the longer-term campaign strategy. If anyone wants to contribute ideas please contact the RTW email address (RTW@nationalwatersafety.org.uk

 

UN Resolution on Drowning Prevention

For the first time in its 75 year history, the United Nations (UN) has adopted a resolution on drowning prevention. Initiated by Bangladesh and Ireland, and co-sponsored by 79 countries, the resolution recognises the devastating effect of drowning across the world. This will also see the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day which will be held on July 25.

The UN’s resolution has been passed by the General Assembly and affirms 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:

1. Appoint a national focal point for drowning prevention
2. Develop a national drowning prevention plan
3. Develop drowning prevention programming in line with the WHO’s recommendations
4. Ensure enactment and effective enforcement of water safety laws
5. Encourage the registration of drowning deaths
6. Promote drowning prevention public awareness


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Coastal Working Group: Quarterly Recap


As we enter the busy summer season – ahead of a year predicted to be like no other – the National Water Safety Forum’s Coastal Group met virtually in May to reflect on the progress made to date.

To name but a few highlights: The National Water Safety Forum were pleased to share the updated version of the COVID 19 beach safety guidance for local authorities, owners, managers and operators.

The annual, upcoming Maritime Safety Week campaign (5-9 July) – a central government initiative for maritime safety – was discussed and the potential for joined up activity and roundtables, with a particular emphasis this year on beach safety.

The working group will meet again in early September to reflect on the summer.

 

Drowning Prevention Week

Between June 19-26, The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) will be running their annual awareness-raising campaign: Drowning Prevention Week.

Drowning Prevention Week (DPW) aims to equip everybody across the UK and Ireland with the skills and knowledge, to make the right decisions about water safety.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, millions of children have missed out on vital swimming, lifesaving skills, and water safety education during the pandemic due to pool closures, 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, have fun in the water and develop an essential life skill. We urge as many partners as possible to encourage parents and carers to get involved with the campaign, use free online resources, and lessons and give children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.

The campaign includes a series of social media resources, available in both English and Welsh, to help share vital messages.

 

 

 

 


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20/05/2021

Increase in accidental drownings lead for calls to Respect the Water

Water Safety Wales is urging people across the country to Respect the Water and reduce drowning this summer after a concerning increase in water-related deaths. 

The call comes as latest figures from the Water Incident Database (WAID) reveal that there were 25 deaths in Welsh waters from accidental drownings in 2020, up from 20 the previous year.(1) 

It is the first time in five years the number of accidental drownings in Wales has increased. These accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in Wales which stands at 50 for 2020, one fewer than the 2019 total of 51 (2).

The number of accidental drownings across the UK also rose in 2020 to 254, an increase of 34 on the previous year.

In a call to action, members of the drowning prevention group Water Safety Wales have come together to ask everyone to #RespectTheWater and support the national campaign to reduce drowning this summer. 

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.

The national campaign, which aims to provide simple lifesaving advice which can help members of the public take responsibility for their own and their family’s safety by following these guidelines: 

  • If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, Float to live 
  • If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112

 

Other accidental drowning death insights in Wales:

  • Males make up 80% of all accidental drowning deaths
  • Almost half (44%) of accidental drownings involved people with no intention to enter the water, such as those walking or running by water
  • Inland open waters like rivers and lakes were the leading locations with 56% of accidental deaths
  • Almost a third (32%) of the accidental drownings happened in August and more than half (52%) happened on weekends

 

Chris Cousens, Chair of Water Safety Wales, said: 

Last summer presented considerable challenges at our coastal and inland waterways. This has meant that members of Water Safety Wales have decided to come together around the #RespectTheWater campaign to help prevent further deaths. We urge the public to understand the dangers, to learn the importance of knowing how to float to live, and to call 999 if others are in trouble and if there is a water related emergency.

In December, Water Safety Wales launched Wales’ first ever drowning prevention strategy, which has an aspiration of zero water related deaths in Wales by 2026.

Chris Cousens said: “Water Safety Wales believes one death is too many and the impact of losing someone to a death in the water cannot be underestimated. We will reduce drowning if everyone plays their part and Wales’ Drowning Prevention Strategy 2020-2026 aims to enable people living and visiting Wales to be safer in, on and around water by reducing water related deaths and incidents.”

To view and download the WAID 2020 report, which is maintained by the National Water Safety Forum, visit: https://nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/annual-reports-and-data/ 

For the Welsh version this press release please see here

Footnotes

 (1) The increase in accidental drownings in 2020 should be set against a longer term reducing accidental drowning trend and an unusual level of visitors to coastline and waterways in 2020. Whilst the events of last year were highly unusual, the impact of COVID-19 has had a direct impact on waterway visits, where the figures shown from the WAID may have been impacted. 

(2) This year’s WAID statistics includes a fatality figure from suspected or confirmed suicides. The figure for Wales was 14. Please refer to the Samaritans’ media guidelines when reporting on suicide  here and/or the IPSO guidelines: Reporting on suicide for journalists (ipso.co.uk)

The WAID water-related fatal accident report compiles data from a variety of sources including coroner’s reports to determine the legal and medical ‘outcome’. The 2020 report has a higher number of ‘not recorded’ reports which may cause the 25 figure to be revised upwards when further information available.  

Water Safety Wales is a collaboration of individuals, communities, charities and public and private sector organisations with an interest in water safety and drowning prevention. It aims to reduce water related deaths and incidents in Wales by promoting the importance of a consistent and effective approach to water safety.

To download Wales’ Drowning Prevention Strategy 2020-2026 and for more information about Water Safety Wales, visit: http://nationalwatersafety.org.uk/wales/

Water Safety Wales includes representatives from Adventure Smart Wales, Canal & River Trust, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police, Keep Wales Tidy, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Mineral Products Association, National Advisory Group to Welsh Government on Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention, National Resources Wales, National Union of Students, National Water Safety Forum, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Royal Life Saving Society UK, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents, Samaritans, Severn Trent Water, South Wales Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Swansea Council, Swim Wales, Surf Lifesaving Association of Wales, Water Safety Scotland.

The ‘Float to Live’ advice is a key message in the national drowning prevention campaign, #RespectTheWater. It urges people to follow this potentially lifesaving advice if they find themselves in trouble after falling into cold water: Fight your instinct to swim hard or thrash about – this can lead to breathing in water and drowning. Instead, relax and FLOAT on your back, until you have regained control of your breathing


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19/05/2021

Public urged to “Respect the Water” as new statistics show drowning deaths increased last year, with more dying inland than around the coast.

Following a concerning increase in water-related deaths last year, over 50 organisations are, for the first time, issuing coordinated water safety advice for those visiting and enjoying waterways and coastlines as part of the #RespectTheWater campaign. This joint campaign, run by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), aims to reduce the number of water-related deaths and accidents.

 

The collaborating members of the NWSF, come from a wide range of sectors including sports governing bodies, rescue services, charities, regulators, navigation and harbour authorities, local government, utilities and those representing quarry operators.

 

In a call to action, members of the NWSF are asking everyone to support and promote the national #RespectTheWater campaign, to reduce drowning this summer.

 

The national campaign aims to provide simple lifesaving advice, which can help members of the public take personal responsibility for their own and family’s safety by remembering these lifesaving tips:

 

  • If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live.
  • 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 or 112. If you are the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland, ask for the fire service.

 

The aim of this landmark coordinated approach is to significantly increase public awareness of key water safety risks as summer approaches and lockdown lifts.

 

The campaign comes with the latest figures from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the NWSF. It shows that there were 254 deaths in UK waters from accidental drownings in 2020 across inland and coastal locations, this is an increase of 34 from the previous year. These accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in the UK which stands at 631 for 2020, an increase of 10 on the previous year.

 

Key accidental drowning death WAID insights include:

  • Inland open waters, such as rivers, canals,lakes, reservoirs and quarries continue to be the leading locations with 58% of deaths (N=139).
  • Males continue to over represent with 78% of deaths (N=199).
  • Almost half of (43%) people had no intention to enter the water, such as those walking, with causes including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves (N= 107).

 

Dawn Whittaker, CEO East Sussex Fire Rescue Service & NWSF Chair-Designate said:

“Last summer presented considerable challenges at our coastal and inland waterways. This has meant that members of the National Water Safety Forum have decided to come together around the #RespectTheWater campaign to help prevent further deaths. We urge the public to understand the dangers, to learn the importance of knowing how to float to live, and to call 999 if others are in trouble and if there is a water related emergency.

We will continue to work together to reduce deaths caused by drowning and water related injuries in the UK, and endeavour to reach our collective goal of halving accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. This comes at a time when the global community have committed to a UN resolution that recognises for the first time the scale and burden of drowning and calls for urgent international action.”

 

To view and download the WAID 2020 report visit: https://nationalwatersafety.org.uk/waid/annual-reports-and-data/


Read More >

06/05/2021

Coastal Working Group: Quarterly Recap

Reflections and preparations - Summer 2021

As we enter May and approach the busy summer season – ahead of a year predicted to be like no other – the National Water Safety Forum’s Coastal Group met virtually to reflect on the progress and preparations in place by all members, which will help keep the public and staff stay safe on beaches.

To name but a few highlights: The National Water Safety Forum were pleased to share the updated version of the COVID 19 beach safety guidance for local authorities, owners, managers and operators. The guidance has been developed to help mitigate drowning and water-related harm at beaches, while also covering the challenges and practical considerations of seeking to maintain social distancing at the beach. Find out more here.

HM Coastguard gave insight on how coastguard incident data is being used to support stakeholders and partners by identifying activities and locations where emergency search and rescue help is required at the coast. The data is being shared so that necessary mitigations can be taken. The update also included future plans to give HM Coastguard staff access to live data, which can be shared to inform and shape stakeholder activity and action in relation to beach safety.

 

A single national message

The RNLI presented on the #RespectTheWater brand. The group recapped on the progress and looked to the future of how the forum will apply the new brand across all organisations – an existing RNLI brand which has been refreshed and remodelled for national use. It has been designed with the aim to unify and amplify water safety messages with a single, national call to action that can be applied to both coastal and inland messaging by the forum and beyond. It will also feature in the joint RNLI and HM Coastguard beach safety campaign going live this summer.

 

Key dates, news and activities

Members also reflected on the new UN General Assembly resolution, committed to greater international efforts to prevent drowning, which also introduces the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day (July 25). The virtual room touched upon the potential plans for the future in relation to the day and opportunities for safety messaging.

The annual, upcoming Maritime Safety Week campaign (5-9 July) – a central government initiative for maritime safety – was discussed and the potential for joined up activity and roundtables, with a particular emphasis this year on beach safety.

RoSPA reported on emerging projects including digital interventions for public rescue equipment like life rings, exploring issues and the possibility for new guidance around placement and types of equipment for various locations, plus much more.

 

The working group will meet again in early September to reflect on the summer.

 


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23/04/2021

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

 

We are pleased to share the updated version of Maintaining the safety of the public and staff on coastal beaches during COVID-19.

Following national lock downs across the UK, April 2021 saw Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease around the country which now gives more freedom for the public to access beaches and water sport activities. The revised document is designed to sit alongside and highlight home nation plans and advice.

We would like to thank the many organisations who shaped this update by way of review and survey input and to the drafting team and those who provided case studies.

The document can be viewed here.

Feedback is welcome via the contact us form.


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