New water safety campaign following spate of accidental drownings

Hundreds of people have accidentally drowned in the UK over the past year.

New water safety campaign launched following spate of accidental drownings in Scotland iStock

Scots are being told to “respect the water” after a spate of accidental drownings over the past year.

Over 270 people died as a result of getting into difficulty in UK waters during 2021, a new study found.

Of these accidental drowning deaths, 58 were in Scottish waters – the highest number recorded in the last five years.

The warning comes as part of the largest water safety campaign in the UK by 50 organisations that are part of the National Water Safety Forum, united for the first time this summer on the UN’s World Drowning Prevention Day.

It aims to halve the number of people in the UK who accidentally die in the water each year by 2026.

According to the Water Incident Database (WAID), 277 people accidentally drowned in 2021 in the UK. Almost half of these – 130 – were in the three summer months – including 63 in just July.

The majority of accidental drownings occurred inland – 168 (62%) in 2021 – and 83% of all water-related fatalities were men.

This summer alone has seen at least four accidental drownings in Scottish waters.

On March 20, 18-year-old Jordan Goodwin passed away after getting into difficulty in water at Mugdock Country Park.

Scott Ferries, 24, died in a kayaking accident on March 27 at Loch Doon. His father said on a fundraiser post that emergency teams had tried to resuscitate the Ayrshire mechanic for over an hour, but to no avail.

A woman fell off her kayak into the water and died in Loch Torridon on May 17, despite major efforts to rescue her by land, air and sea teams.

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old girl got into difficulty in the River Teith on July 12. She was flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Glasgow by air ambulance, where she was pronounced dead.

Last year saw what was dubbed a “summer of tragedy”, after seven people drowned in Scotland in the span of one week in July.

The Respect the Water campaign will see ten major buildings and monuments in Scotland light up blue on Monday in support of the global day for drowning prevention.

If you see someone struggling in the water this summer:

  • Immediately dial 999 and ask for the fire service if you are inland. If by the sea, ask for the Coastguard.
  • Encourage the person in trouble to try to float by leaning back, spreading and gently moving their arms and legs to try to relax and get control of their breathing before they try to swim to safety.
  • Throw them something nearby which they can hold onto to help them float.
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