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.