Sky News Reports on a hard hitting video designed to deter young swimmers from enjoying rivers and lakes to cool down during warm weather. The report suggests that marker posts be erected along river banks, similar to those you see at the side of the motorway, enabling anyone phoning for help to give a precise location for the emergency services.
Michael Dunn spoke for the Royal Life Saving Society: “While I understand that everyone wants to go to a water site when it’s hot and sunny and dip there feet in and cool off, it’s important that they understand that the water temperature stays very cold on hot days, and that if you get into deeper water it can affect your muscles and your ability to swim quite considerably.”
In an effort to reduce the number of tragic drownings this summer the RLSS advise: Don’t get in!
The news report concludes with the chilling reminder: “Their is an accidental drowning every 20 hours.”
Attitudes in the UK are worlds apart from our European neighbors. Here for example we have just 12 designated inland bathing waters compared with 1,900 in Germany and 1,300 in France. Despite this or perhaps because of it and all our efforts to discourage youngsters from getting into open water we have roughly the same rate of drowning as Germany and France who encourage open water swimming. Why the discrepancy? The answer lies in part in a leaflet produced by the RLSS. It advises: “Swim at lifeguarded lakes.” Good advice but such lakes are few and far between in England.
Next it states: “When around water, stay back from the edge. At least 22% of people who drowned fell into the water by accident (e.g. whilst out fishing, running, of walking).”
This raises the question: just how many people drown having decided to go in for a swim? Quoting figures from Swimming Pool News (related to 2010): Their were 420 drownings in all, 58 involved someone who had been walking or running compared to 31 involved someone who had been swimming. In the video report the chilling statistic is featured “Their is an accidental drowning every 20 hours.” Viewers might assume that this refers to a river or lake swimmer drowning every 20 hours but they are being mislead. Of the 31 swimmers that drowned 6 where in swimming pools not open water. Nearly as many people drown at home in the bath or jacuzzi as do open water swimming: 24 in 2010. This does not mean that we should be unconcerned about open water swimmers, but it does show that outdoor swimming is singled out for attention during drowning prevention week when in fact walkers runners and anglers are at greater risk.
Lastly the leaflet advises: “Never enter the water after consuming alcohol”. Yet alcohol consumption is the key factor in many drownings.
Their are 3 things that need to change if we are to reduce the small number of open water swimming drownings each year.
2 More designated lifeguarded bathing areas country wide where children, teenagers and adults can swim
3 Accurate information about DROWNING RISKS
To achieve this our attitudes need to change. Swimmers have been Hung Out to Dry.