The tragic deaths from drowning over the last week during the summer heatwave has led to fresh warnings from rescue workers to exercise caution while swimming in lakes and pools not monitored by lifeguards. And it goes without saying that children need to be watched at all times when they are near to water. The drowning of a 5 year old at Bosworth Water Park in Leicestershire last Saturday shows just how vulnerable are the very young when it comes to water.
The Charity The Royal Lifesaving Society warns that most people in the UK drown in inland waters such as lakes and rivers where there are dangerous undercurrents and debris, and 40 per cent of deaths came from people falling into water.
It is obviously very tempting to jump in the water to cool off but there are many unknown hazards in the waters such as extremely cold temperatures—it may seem that the waters at the edge are relatively warm but once you move further away the water temperature can dramatically drop — unpredictable currents, uneven depths and unknown debris or objects that you can get caught on or in.
The RLSS UK’s Deputy Director of Education and Research, Mike Dunn said: “I urge people to listen to our safety advice and never swim in non-lifeguarded areas unsuitable for swimming.
“Any drowning is a tragedy but the number of people who lose their lives each summer is not only extremely sad but extremely worrying.”
Figures show the age group with the highest number of fatalities (27) in 2014 were men aged between 20 and 24. Meanwhile, 0 to 19-year-olds accounted for 11 per cent of deaths (38), of which more than half were teenagers aged 15 to 19 (21).
If you do manage to rescue someone and they are not breathing start CPR immediately and call for help.
For details of Safe and Sound First Aid Courses go to www.safeandsound.uk.net
For information about Secondary or Dry Drowning go to: http://www.safeandsound.uk.net/do-you-know-what-is-dry-or-secondary-drowning/
Below is advice from the Royal Life Saving Society of how to avoid becoming a drowning statistic.
- Swim at unsupervised (un-lifeguarded sites) including lakes, quarries reservoirs and rivers
- Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature
- Jump into the water from heights or ‘tombstone’
- Swim into deep water which will be colder
- Swim at supervised (lifeguarded) sites
- Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety
- Swim with friends or family, so that you can help each other if you need to
- Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming
- Think about what you will do if something goes wrong
- Contact a reputable outdoor pursuits or coasteering centre if you want to take part in more extreme activities
Dangers of open water include:
- The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning
- The depth of the water – this changes and is unpredictable
- Submerged objects may not be visible
- Obstacles or other people in the water
- Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue
- The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water
- Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
- Uneven banks and river beds
- Water quality e.g. toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution
All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.
If someone is in difficulty in the water
- Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
- Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, and item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float
- Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety