Drowning Prevention Week 2020

Drowning Prevention Week 2020, held during the height of lockdown was different from any other before. However, RLSS UK Clubs and Branches still got involved, shared the online resources, and spread the lifesaving messages of water safety. Two clubs that shared their experience with us, were Horsham Life Saving Club and newly formed, Littlehampton Wave Life Saving Club. Please read below to find out how they dealt with it and how they had to change their plans.

Perry had been booked long ago for a double outing in West Sussex and found himself left on someone’s shelf during Drowning Prevention Week 2020. In recent years, he had been more used to a full day of ‘meeting and greeting’ in Horsham Town Centre as part of Horsham Life Saving Club, Drowning Prevention Week events. The prospect of an extra day’s work at the seaside with new life saving club, Littlehampton, was almost too exciting for words.

Sadly, along with many other activities either cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19, Perry had to put away his white socks, big boots, and large face, for another day.

This was annoying and frustrating, given preparation was already underway and, we had organised the PR material for the main events. So the clubs decided that although no face to face town centre activities would be permitted, there were other things we could collectively do to get the water safety message out beyond our lifesaving club ‘bubbles’ where we knew our members were already up to speed.

Not an altogether easy challenge given that at that time we were all in ‘lockdown’. Meetings to bounce ideas around and plan had to be conducted via Zoom and subsequent communications to enthuse members had to be by email.  We were unsure at one point if anything was possible, but we didn’t give up.

So, what did we do?

Kate Hall’s children, George and Hari, made and posted a short video performing reaching rescues across their lawn and David Slade also made a video in his garden performing a ‘rope rescue tutorial’ using two out-of-work orange rescue manikins hiding in his garage and a display of ‘kit and resus manikins’ likewise found in his garage.

Members also were invited to submit a snap-shot-video made on a phone or iPad of a bottle-throw relay and, these were emailed to Kate who arranged for them to be seamlessly joined together to which she added a brief water safety introductory message.

Bottles were ‘thrown’ in numerous gardens, standing knee-deep in the sea, standing on a groyne and each thrower (for the ‘amusement’ of others apparently) then had a bucket of water thrown towards (in some cases at!) them. Some nominated water throwers got a bit carried away in this, but it did save John Stainer needing a shower later.

This message and ‘relay’ was posted on the Club websites and the RLSS UK website and ‘shared’ on members Facebook and Twitter pages. This resulted, as far as we’ve been able to track, in no less than 601 views and plus the ‘shares’, we reached 1,119 people. We were ‘well chuffed’!

John Stainer also got a Drowning Prevention Week Water Safety article in the West Sussex County Times which was syndicated through all the local newspapers and, David Slade followed this up with a highlighting letter to the Editor printed in the Littlehampton Gazette.

David also produced a picture quiz for members of both clubs in which it was necessary to ‘spot the dangers’ depicted in various photos taken during his permitted ‘one-hour exercise’ around Littlehampton seafront and the River Arun.

All in all, we were well pleased with what we’d achieved despite the limitations brought about by COVID-19 and, all being well, normal service (and more) will be resumed for DPW2021.

Well done to everyone involved.

Do you have an inspirational story about how you’ve operated during lockdown and in the current COVID-19 environment? If so, email us at [email protected] as we would love to share your story to inspire other clubs.