With the summer holidays approaching and scorching temperatures set to continue, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging people, particularly young men, to be extra vigilant in and around water.
Water can look incredibly tempting, especially on a hot day, but it is a sad fact that periods of warm weather are often linked to spates of accidental drownings, especially when they coincide with weekends and school holidays.
Last year, a total of 381 people drowned in accidents across the UK of whom 185 were in inland waters e.g. canals, rivers and lakes. Figures show young men are at particular risk.
On average, about 40 people, who go to inland sites to jump, swim or play in water, die every year.
And the peak summer months of July and August witnessed the most deaths during this period.
RoSPA advises people to swim at properly-supervised sites, such as beaches, lidos or swimming pools, if at all possible.
The charity, which has been at the heart of accident prevention in the UK and around the world for almost 100 years, is also urging those who want to cool off in the water to think about these top tips before getting in:
1. Take it slowly – think before entering the water. Don’t jump or rush in.
2. Swim sober, have your beer after you swim, not before.
3. When you are not at a supervised site, be sociable and go with other people and make sure you know what to do if someone gets into difficulty.
RoSPA advises that children never swim unsupervised.
Dave Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “We understand the temptation to want to go swimming at open water sites, especially on a sunny day. But it is important to consider that even on a hot day the water might be a lot colder or deeper than you were expecting and there may be under water debris that you cannot see from the bank.
“With the heat, we often see young people, particularly men, tempted to cool off or jump into open water. If you are going to swim at inland water sites then don’t go alone. Consider how you are going to get out of the water before you get in, and be honest about your swimming ability.
“By far the safest place to swim is at properly-supervised sites, such as lifeguarded beaches, lidos and swimming pools, although we appreciate that not everyone can get to these locations.”
For more safety tips and advice, see RoSPA’s Water Safety for Children and Young People factsheet.