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July 2002
Water safety - Summer holiday special
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Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death among the under 16's.

Here we tell you how to avoid the dangers of water.

Incidences of drowning rise when the weather is warm.

Inland water areas, such as rivers, streams, and canals are especially risky and tempting to young people who see such places as a good spot to cool off.

In fact nearly 200 deaths were recorded last year the vast majority of which occurred at inland water site.

Most of these victims could also swim, but the nature of such places can present problems to even the most experienced swimmer.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has a list of key points to bear in mind to minimise the risk of drowning.

A 'Drowning Chain'
The best way to prevent drownings is pretty obvious; stop people from going into the water in the first place!

How to break the 'Chain':
Experts have come up with four main reasons why people drown. All these reasons are linked to one another, a bit like a chain. Therefore experts refer to them as 'links' in a 'Drowning Chain'.

If you want to stop people from drowning you must find a way of breaking one of the links, and therefore breaking the chain.

The links of the chain are:

1) Ignoring or misjudging danger
If you manage to break the first link of the chain, you are more likely to prevent a drowning. This can be done by educating people to recognise dangers and risks- just like you are doing now by reading this!

2) Having easy access to hazards
To break this link, getting into the water should be made as difficult as possible. Warning signs and types of fencing should be in place.

3) No Lifeguards present
You are more likely to drown in places where there are no lifeguards around to rescue you if you do get into danger.

4) Unable to save yourself or be rescued

If you haven't broken the chain yet, the only thing that is going to save you is managing to save yourself or by somebody else rescuing you. This is the last chain in the link because if you break the other links first, you are more likely to successfully save lives.

The Water Safety Code
Spot the dangers! Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous. Learn to spot and keep away from dangers. You may swim well in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that you will be able to swim in cold water.

The dangers of water include: it is very cold; it can be deep; it is difficult to estimate depth; there may be hidden currents; there may be hidden rubbish, e.g. shopping trolleys, broken glass; it may be polluted and may make you ill; it can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks); there are no lifeguards. Take safety advice!

Special flags and notices may warn you of danger. Know what the signs mean and do what they tell you.

Don't go alone! Children should always go with an adult, not by themselves. An adult can point out dangers or help is somebody gets into trouble.

Learn how to help! You may be able to help yourself and others if you know what to do in an emergency.

If you see someone in difficulty, tell somebody, preferably a Lifeguard if there is one nearby, or go to the nearest telephone, dial 999, ask for the Police at inland water sites and the coastguard at the beach.

For more details on the Water Safety Code go to:

Why not get yourself some essential skills? Our BBC First Aid Action website has an interactive test that puts you at the scene of a virtual drowning accident.

To find out more about lifeguard training in our area by visiting the Colwick Park Lifeguards website.

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Water Safety Code

BBC First Aid Action

Royal Life Saving Society UK

Colwick Park Lifeguards

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