A rise in drowning figures has prompted the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) to encourage parents to teach their children how to stay safe and enjoy water safely this summer, as part of its national Drowning Prevention Week campaign, 19-26 June 2021.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, millions of children have missed out on vital swimming, lifesaving skills and water safety education during the pandemic due to pool closures, leaving a dramatic gap in school swimming and water safety education.
Young people from low incomes and ethnic minority communities have been the hardest hit. A staggering 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children do not swim, and this gap has widened still further as a result of Covid-19.
Accidental drowning takes an average of 402 UK and Irish citizens each year, and the Royal Life Saving Society UK fears that with lockdown restrictions lifting and staycations on the up, families will flock to inland water locations and beaches this summer, without the right knowledge and skills, putting themselves and others at risk.
Fourteen-year-old Teya Davies tragically died after slipping into Sniggy Pond in Widnes, trying to help her friend who had fallen into the water before her. Teya’s story is not a ‘one off’- it’s one of many, so RLSS UK has teamed up with Teya’s friends and family to create a powerful video highlighting the importance of water safety, in Teya’s honour.
Teya’s friend, Liv Eren said: “We sadly lost our friend, Teya, at the age of 14. When looking back on Teya’s story, we now know how preventable her death could have been if only she knew how to swim, or to keep herself safe in the water. We are pleased to do our bit to prevent others from going through the heartache of losing a friend like we have.”
RLSS UK’s Charity Director Lee Heard, said: “We are surrounded by opportunities to be in or near water. Whatever their age and activity level, everyone should be having fun, creating memories and feeling at ease around the water. The inequality in access to swimming and water safety education, and subsequent lack of potential interaction with the water is a big concern.
“RLSS UK believes that through free, accessible education and training, everyone can enjoy water safely, have fun in the water and develop an essential life skill. We urge as many parents and carers as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources, and give children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water. “
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “We want every primary school pupil to learn to swim and to have water safety lessons, not just because it can improve their physical health but also because it is an important life skill.
“The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s work in raising awareness about the importance of water safety is very welcome, adding to the work we continue to do with schools to promote water safety and swimming. We must do all we can to eliminate the tragedy of children drowning.”
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