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January newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

14/01/2021

Message from the Chairman


At the time of writing, all parts of the UK are in lockdown and new infections of coronavirus have surpassed the peak of last spring. Government guidelines have placed restrictions on travel and the public have been instructed only to take exercise in their locality.

However, National Water Safety Forum (NSWF) partners must be ready for a time when restrictions will be lifted and we may, once again, see record-levels of visitors at the UK's coastal and inland water destinations.

In preparation for this, NWSF partners have contributed to the review of Legal Responsibilities for Beach Safety and I will report back on this in due course. I know that NWSF member organisations continue to work tirelessly to keep the public safe during this challenging time.

To assist with our on-going monitoring of water-related incidents, the NWSF has produced an interactive report which allows users to review the available data about reported cases of accidental drowning in the UK.

Finally, I am pleased to say that at the end of last year, the first-ever Welsh drowning prevention strategy was unveiled by Water Safety Wales. I look forward to sharing the success of the partnership and hope to see more strategies of this kind come forward from other parts of the UK.

Thank you for your continuing efforts on behalf of drowning prevention and water safety.

George Rawlinson
Chairman
National Water Safety Forum

 

New WAID Dashboard

View the 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 2014-2019.


Beach Safety Workshop

Towards the end of last year, the independent review of the Legal Responsibilities for Beach Safety was 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.

On Thursday, January 21 between 10am-1pm, the National Water Safety Forum will be hosting a feedback and review session. The session will be led by NSWF Chairman George Rawlinson, and will provide opportunity for discussion about the contents of the review of the Legal Responsibilities for Beach Safety. There will be a report back about this workshop in the next edition of the NWSF newsletter.

Reporting Back: Winter Coastal Safety Campaign

Joanne Groenenberg, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, reports back on a recent public safety campaign:

Over the Christmas and New Year period, HM Coastguard and RNLI teamed up to promote a new winter safety campaign aimed at ensuring people were as safe as possible over what can traditionally be a busy period along our coastlines.

Back in the summer the two organisations, recognising the likely surge in coastal visits, came together to promote a safety campaign which urged people to avoid taking inflatables to sea, find out about rip currents, check tides, and call 999 Coastguard in an emergency.

The winter campaign focused on subjects most likely to cause incidents over the winter period: tidal cut-offs, cliff safety and winter seas. Three films were made using Coastguard and RNLI footage, along with some impactful real-life material. Some of the messaging reminded the public to stay well back from stormy, wintery seas and cliff edges, to take a fully charged phone with them, to check tide times before they go and to remember to call 999 in an emergency at the coast. Online advertising was targeted at those most likely to be involved in winter coastal incidents; we used lifeboat launch data to help inform this decision. Organic social media posts also ensured that we delivered our messages to those who needed them most.

Although we haven’t received all of the analytics from the campaign yet, we do know that just under 4million people were reached on Facebook as a result of the advertising and an additional 425,000 as a result of the MCA’s organic feed. Our NWSF partners also helped us to reach as many people as possible on their social media channels so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support. We hope to run the campaign again in the spring, dependent upon lockdown measures.

Wales Drowning Prevention Strategy

Shortly before the Christmas break, the first-ever Wales Drowning Prevention Strategy was launched by Lesley Griffiths MS, Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. The strategy was drawn up by Water Safety Wales and has set an aspiration to see zero water-related fatalities in the country.

The key aims of the strategy, which runs from 2020-2026, are to improve water incident data and intelligence in Wales and promote and develop learning to swim and water safety education. Support will also be offered to communities to develop water safety plans to understand and mitigate any risks.

The strategy aims to promote public awareness of water-related risks and ensure consistent safety messages reach the right people at the right time, by promoting safe participation in water activities across Wales.


Visit Scotland: The Year of Coast and Water

Each year Scotland’s national tourism organisation, Visit Scotland, chooses themes to promote the wealth of cultural, historical and natural treasures which can be found in the country. Last year was designated to be the year of Scotland’s coasts and waters but owing to the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic, Visit Scotland has decided to continue with the theme in 2021.

To help ensure that members of the public are kept safe when visiting inland and coastal waters, Visit Scotland has partnered with Water Safety Scotland to promote a Water Safety Code.

Safety information will be distributed alongside marketing material which displays Scotland’s waterside destinations. The Water Safety Code explains how to manage risks that may lead to entering the water unintentionally, and what to do in an emergency.


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