One person dies from drowning every 15 hours in the UK. It’s a shocking statistic from the National Water Safety Forum that has prompted the creation of the UK’s first Drowning Prevention Strategy, which was launched at Parliament this month.
The 10-year strategy aims to halve the number of fatalities on or near water by 2026. According to recent statistics, around *400 people accidently drown every year, with a further 200 people committing suicide on our waters annually. (*source NWSF)
As Managing Director of Water Babies, Steve Franks was invited to the launch in Westminster, hosted by Minister for Transport, Robert Goodwill MP on 1 March. Steve discusses his thoughts on the new strategy.
Steve Franks, Managing Director of Water Babies
On a daily basis it continues to sadden me when observing adults - new parents with babies and toddlers - about to enter into swimming pools no deeper than around 1.2m who are terrified of the water.
One of our core principles as a national and international company is built upon the belief that every child has a right to be taught to swim and be safe in and around water. So having been invited to attend the recent launch of the Drowning Prevention Strategy at Westminster, alongside many of the leading national organisations who have championed this vital piece of work, there was no question that Water Babies would sign up to pledge our support.
Shockingly, in the UK around 45% of children aged between 7-11 years cannot swim 25m unaided, despite a statutory requirement for all pupils to achieve a minimum standard of swimming ability, including being able to swim 25m before they finish Key Stage 2 (end of Year 6) and reach secondary education. As an island nation surrounded by water, learning to swim as a life skill from as young an age as possible should be a mandatory right of every child. If this could be achieved, this would make a significant contribution to reducing the number of accidental deaths through drowning.
As part of our commitment to raising awareness of the importance of being safe in and around water, we will be exploring ways of how best to collaborate with partner organisations and agencies on delivering this message, not only to the 45,000 clients that we teach to swim each and every week, but also to the other 250,000 people who are actively registered and regularly engaged with Water Babies in the UK.
Furthermore, adopting and implementing standards that provide examples, guidance and recommendations of best industry practice, particularly within the learn-to-swim sector, will also be a significant step-change in raising the profile of the importance of being taught to swim from a consumer, health and educational perspective.
Here at Water Babies, we’re determined to help ensure that being safe in and around water remains at the forefront of safeguarding people’s welfare, and to contribute to reducing the unacceptably high number of deaths associated with accidental drowning.