Survey highlights UK drowning problem


The latest research findings released by the Royal Life Saving Society shows that one in 10 people know someone who has died as a result of drowning, with nearly one in five knowing someone who has nearly drowned.

The survey was carried out as part of the charity’s national annual campaign Drowning Prevention Week, which aims to promote water safety and cut down the number of accidental drowning incidences in the UK, as well as raise money to support families affected by drowning and near drowning.

Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in children in the UK. More than 400 people accidentally drown in the UK every year (one every 20 hours) and thousands more have near drowning experiences – some resulting in life changing injuries.

The survey showed that only 33 per cent of parents were confident that their child knew how to be safe near water and 80 per cent of respondents said that water safety skills should be on the national curriculum.

Key Facts from the research include:

  • More than 400 people drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer near-drowning experiences
  • One person dies as a result of drowning an average of every 20 hours in the UK and Ireland
  • Drowning is the third highest cause of death in children in the UK
  • Drowning claims the lives of almost 400,000 people worldwide per year, with hundreds of thousands more incidences going unrecorded
  • More than 60 children drown during the summer every year in the UK, yet the majority of these deaths are likely to have been preventable.
  • Around 85 per cent of accidental drownings occur at open water sites, and many of these occur due to lack of knowledge and understanding of the hazards associated.
  • It is possible to drown in as little as 5cm of water
  • Nine out of 10 parents don't know basic first aid skills that could help them to save their child's life, and only 20 per cent of parents in the UK think that they could resuscitate their child
  • Nationally, a third of parents say they or someone that their child visits has a pond and only 61 per cent of these ponds are securely covered or fenced
  • 22 per cent of parents have suffered the distress of watching their child choke and 'didn't know what to do'
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