The latest figures on UK drownings have shown a decrease, says Royal Life Saving Society UK – the UK’s Drowning Prevention Charity – but every drowning is one too many.

The Water Accident and Incident Database (WAID) statistics revealed today (July 29) show that 321 people lost their lives to drowning in 2015, falling from 338 in 2014.This is the lowest figure since records began in 1983.

Despite a reduction in figures the charity says drowning is preventable and there is still much work to be done to educate everybody in the community about water safety and save more lives.

RLSS UK’s Chief Executive, Di Steer, said: “Although it is encouraging that the numbers of accidental water related deaths have reduced, our aim as a charity is to see a year-on-year reduction in drowning, and this figure is still tragically too high.”

The figures show that the majority of fatalities were of those people who never intended to be in the water in the first place. Runners and walkers near water were again the highest group to lose their lives to drowning in 2015 with 82 deaths recorded, equating to over 25 per cent of all accidental drownings.

“This figure is extremely concerning and often comes as a surprise to people, as those concerned never expected to end up in the water. Although there has been a 15 per cent decrease in these tragic drownings since last year, we will continue to focus our efforts on ensuring our messages are targeted accordingly, and we will deliver our Runners and Walkers campaign again next year to raise awareness and hopefully save even more lives,” Di Steer added. 

2014 saw a spike in alcohol related drownings with 21 per cent of all accidental drowning victims having alcohol in their bloodstream, and 57 per cent of all 18 to 21-year-old victims having alcohol in their bloodstream. 

The amount of alcohol related drownings in 2015 has decreased to 17 per cent, with over a 25 per cent decrease in alcohol related drownings in 18-21 year olds, the lowest rate since 2012.

“Although the alcohol related drowning figures have reduced we will continue to promote our Don’t Drink and Drown campaign at key times throughout the year to continue to reduce these figures further.”

The figures also highlight that 95 deaths occurred at the coast, beach or shore. The release of the 2015 drowning statistics follows a tragic weekend of drownings as the summer holiday season begins, including a 54-year-old swimmer who died and another who is in hospital after four people got into difficulties after getting caught in a rip current off a Norfolk beach.

David Castleman, 14, who holds an RLSS UK Survive & Save Gold Medallion lifesaving award, swam out to two unconscious casualties and turned both over. Realising that one still showed signs of life, he immediately began towing him to safety.

“David’s selfless, brave actions and lifesaving knowledge has given one of the casualties a fighting chance. This tragic drowning at Sea Palling beach in Norfolk shows how powerful and dangerous water can be, but also highlights how important water safety education is and how having lifesaving skills can save lives.

“We must still continue to educate people in water safety and work tirelessly to equip people with the skills to know how to save a life, whether it be on their own, or with someone else’s help in an emergency.

“We will continue to commit to ensure that everyone of all ages can enjoy the water safely, but know the dangers and act according,” Di added.

David is set to be awarded with RLSS UK’s prestigious Young Person’s Certificate of Commendation.

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