Scottish regions had UK's 'fifth highest number of drownings in 2021'

Argyll and Bute, Highlands and Aberdeenshire had a total of 15 drownings in 2021.

National Water Safety Forum: Argyll and Bute, Aberdeenshire and Highlands had fifth most drownings in 2021 iStock

Three Scottish regions now have the fifth highest number of drownings in the UK, according to a recent report.

Published by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), the report shows that Argyll and Bute, Highlands and Aberdeenshire jointly had the fifth highest number of accidental deaths by drowning in the UK in 2021.

There were a total of 15 water fatalities reported in the regions over the year, five per area; an increase of three for Aberdeenshire, two for Argyll and Bute, and a decrease in four for the Highlands, when compared to 2020 figures.

It comes after reports that a total of 58 people accidentally lost their lives in Scottish waters last year.

Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), has warned that with summer fast approaching, people will head to the waterways within Scotland to enjoy the warmer weather without water basic safety knowledge, and even more fatalities will be seen over the summer months.

The charity’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign, running between June 18 and June 25, seeks to highlight the need for accessible water safety knowledge – especially for children.

Around 70,000 children will be offered water safety lessons during this year’s campaign as part of the Learn to Swim programme – a partnership between Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming.

The programme will run across 40 areas of Scotland, including Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles, Aberdeen and Moray, down to Tayside, Perthshire, Lanarkshire, Borders, Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and beyond.

Research into the cognitive benefits for young people who take swimming lessons has shown they achieve a range of developmental milestones earlier than those who don’t, according to the charity.

Lee Heard, charity director at RLSS UK, said: “With June, July, and August proving to be the months with the most fatalities, it is vitally important that everyone has an understanding of water safety, especially during the summer months.

“We have seen a rise in the number of drownings over the last few years, with peaks during the summer. In Scotland there were 58 accidental drownings in 2021, with Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, and the Highlands accounting for 15 of those fatalities, and we know that with the right water safety knowledge, accidental drownings are avoidable.”

“We want to ensure that everyone can enjoy their summer break and enjoy being in or around water but be safe in the knowledge that they, and their children, have the skills and understanding about water safety, which could potentially save a life. Every life is worth saving.”

For Drowning Prevention Week (DPW), RLSS UK has also launched a range of free educational resources available on their website for children, young people and parents.

Heard added: “If you or someone else finds themselves in difficulty in the water, it’s vital to remember the Water Safety Code: whenever you are around water you should stop and think to assess your surroundings and look for any dangers; stay together when around water and always go with family and friends; in an emergency call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when inland and the Coastguard if at the coast; and finally float to live, if you fall in or become tired, stay calm, float on your back and call for help, or if you see someone in the water, throw something that floats to them and resist temptation to go in.”

RLSS’s Drowning Prevention Week is one of the UK and Ireland’s largest summer water safety campaigns aimed to equip people with skills and knowledge to make the right decisions about water safety, particularly during the summer months.

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