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30/03/2021

March newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

 

Message from the Chairman

 

This week, people across the country gathered together to mark the anniversary of the first UK-wide lockdown. We all remember the panic, fear and uncertainty that characterised the days and weeks leading up to Monday March 23 2020.

Since then, more than 125,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives due to the coronavirus. I  am sure I speak for everyone in the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) when I say that our thoughts are with those who have lost a loved one to this terrible disease and we will continue to do our bit to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

It is in the spirit of preserving life and protecting the public that our mission endures. I know that all organisations within the NWSF are preparing for when restrictions are lifted and we may well, yet again, see record numbers of visitors at our inland and coastal waters. I look forward to hearing about our members' dynamic campaigns and live-saving activities as we move towards the summer. We have held initial briefing sessions for a more unified water safety campaigns and messaging effort under the banner of 'Respect The Water', which the RNLI has kindly released to the NWSF and its members.

I have now submitted the NWSF's consultation report concerning the 'Review of Legal Responsibility for Beach Safety'. It will be considered by the Minister for Aviation and Maritime, Robert Courts MP, and it forms a part of the Government's wider consultation. My aim is to publish it on the NWSF website in due course, but in the mean-time I remain very grateful for the excellent range of responses i received from members.

To turn to another milestone, the National Water Safety Newsletter, which you are reading now, is celebrating its first birthday this month. We always welcome content and ideas from our members.

If you have any suggestions or feedback do not hesitate to send an email to info@nationalwatersafety.org.uk.

Until next time,

George Rawlinson
Chairman
National Water Safety Forum

 

Reminder: 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.

 

'Respect the Water' workshops


The RNLI has kindly agreed to host a workshop with their marketing and water safety teams to talk you through developments, share some new resources and offer a question and answer session. The ideal audience will be members of the forums coordinating group and relevant members of your communications or marketing teams. It will cover:

Respect the water brand guidelines
Principle of use
Agreements
Future support


Look out for further details.

 

Reporting back: Coastal Working Group

 

Earlier this month, the National Water Safety Forum’s Coastal Group met virtually for the first time this year.

The focus of the meeting was on preparations for coastal safety this summer. It’s predicted that there will be record numbers of visitors at the coast this year as the weather improves and lockdown restrictions ease.

Members discussed preventative strategies and the work that has been done so far, sharing updates and future proposals:

Joint communications

This included ideas on how members can join forces and spread joint safety messages far and wide to both coastal and inland audiences to maximise reach. The key messages will include top tips and safety advice on how to stay safe at the coast together with the call 999 Coastguard emergency message.

Letter to beach owners and local authorities

The RNLI and HM Coastguard reported back on a recent collaboration. The organisations have shared a letter with beach owners and local authorities providing data and information to help support safety measures, preparations, risk assessments and planning.

Policing contributing to coastal safety

Following a presentation by Inspector Adrian Woon from Devon and Cornwall Police and his colleague Sergeant Andy Mulhern, who leads on the police led Coast Safe campaign, the group explored how policing can help push safety messages and drowning prevention activity, as well as the role they may play on a national level looking ahead.

The working group will meet again in May and will report back.

 

Water Safety Scotland update

 

Water Safety Scotland's Steering Group are currently re-invigorating subgroups with the view ahead after lockdown. Our Education Subgroup is back up and running and the Recreational Subgroup has its first meeting late in March.

The Data Subgroup have started to draft up a process for a voluntary drowning fatality review following incidents. It will be based on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) case conferences.

The  ‘Respect The Water’ banner and unified communications campaign is a positive step for the UK and Scotland. The WSS steering group have agreed its use and all members have had time to feedback. Water Safety Scotland officially endorses the campaign.

 

RoSPA welcomes new Leisure Safety Manager

 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has appointed a new Leisure Safety Manager, Carlene McAvoy, who will promote safe, healthy and active lifestyles as part of her work.
 
Carlene brings a wealth of experience to role having being at the forefront of developing water safety policy in Scotland for many years. Carlene founded Water Safety Scotland and was a key author on Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy – two major milestones for Scotland.
 
Prior to her most recent appointment, Carlene McAvoy was employed by RoSPA as a Community Safety Development Manager (Scotland) where her brief covered accident prevention in the home and water activities so will be familiar face to many at the National Water Safety Forum.


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04/03/2021

NWSF Coastal Group update

 

NWSF coastal group: preparing for a busy summer and coastal safety

The National Water Safety Forum’s Coastal Group met virtually for the first meeting of 2021 last week.

The focus was on preparations for coastal safety this summer. It’s predicted that there will be an influx of visitors at the coast this year as the weather improves and lockdown restrictions ease.

Member discussed preventative strategies and the work that has been done so far, sharing updates and future proposals.

Joint communications

This included ideas on how members can join forces and spread joint safety messages far and wide to both coastal and inland audiences to maximise reach. The key messages will include top tips and safety advice on how to stay safe at the coast together with the call 999 Coastguard emergency message.

Letter to beach owners and local authorities

The RNLI and HM Coastguard reported back on a recent collaboration. The organisations have shared a letter with beach owners and local authorities providing data and information to help support safety measures, preparations, risk assessments and planning.

Policing contributing to coastal safety

Following a presentation by Inspector Adrian Woon from Devon and Cornwall Police and his colleague Sergeant Andy Mulhern, who leads on the police led Coast Safe campaign, the group explored how policing can help push safety messages and drowning prevention activity, as well as the role they may play on a national level looking ahead.

Other discussion included how partners in the group have supported each other, working collaboratively, to ensure training and qualifications are in place ahead of the lifeguard season, a presentation on individuals in crisis and HM Coastguard’s suicide incident support strategy, and James Scott Anderson from British Marine presented on the plans for introducing a Code of Practice for Marinas and Boatyards to improve safety in the recreational marine industry.

With the busy season just around the corner, the group will be meeting again in May.


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14/01/2021

January newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

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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26/11/2020

NWSF Coastal Group update

Covid-19, challenges and coastal impact

The National Water Safety Forum's Coastal Group reunited after longer than usual due to the challenges and conflicting priorities that came with the global pandemic.

 

Looking back

The group held a virtual get together which kicked off with each organisation reflecting on the impact of Covid-19. Discussions were held on how each member could continue to support one another and work towards the joint aim of reducing drownings by 50% by 2026 amidst these unique challenges. The virtual room also exchanged lessons learnt for the future.


Observations, new trends and activities

With many people flooding to the beaches for ‘staycations’ or to exercise, unsurprisingly it was the busiest summer on record for Her Majesty’s Coastguard, the RNLI and other local authorities and emergency services, in terms of emergency search and rescue incidents at the coast.

Some coastal visitors  were not familiar with potential hazards, but even the most frequent visitors were caught out by coastal dangers. From boating to kayaking, experienced and inexperienced participants alike, many people have also been going out on the water for all types of recreational water activities, with paddle boarding rising in popularity more than ever before.

Collectively these circumstances presented unique challenges for RNLI lifeguards, lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams, and many others, but also had implications for all members in the group. From local authorities responsible for managing crowds on the beach; boating organisations wanting to ensure safe sailing in line with government guidance for both new and experienced members and public users; to managing safety messaging and government guidance for all stakeholders across all nations. Other critical considerations and shared challenges included the human impact on staffing and resources for all members, and the need to ensure safe working practices.

 

Highlights

But there were highlights and positives to take from the challenging circumstances. We saw partnership collaborations such as the National Water Safety forum advice for maintaining the safety of the public and staff during CoVID 19 and a  joint RNLI and HMCG multi-media beach safety campaign in relation to the influx of people to the coast, with the main aim of keeping the public safe and aware of potential coastal dangers. Other collaboration also emerged such as between the RNLI and RYA.

 

Looking ahead

It’s predicted that it will be a busier winter than usual, with more people visiting the coast for walks while other indoor activities are not possible. Also, with more UK holidays likely again in the summer, beaches and popular beauty spots will be much more crowded than in the past. Against this context, the group will continue to work closely together to support and collaborate with each other to develop safety campaigns and other initiatives to promote safe behaviour at the coast during these unprecedented times.

 

Other updates

The group also had updates on the SLSGB/HM Coastguard Agreement, RNLI/HMCG Operational agreement, RNLI Water Safety Strategy, National Water Safety Forum progress update, WAID new process and discovery phase and the latest progress on the review of legal responsibilities for beach safety.

The group will meet virtually again in February to work closer than ever to guide safe behavior for everyone visiting the coast.

 

 

 


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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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