Alcohol link in third of young people drowning cases

Mill Pond, Pembroke Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph

A third of cases of young people who drowned in Wales involved alcohol, a report has found.

Public Health Wales' child death review programme looked at 26 deaths involving people aged 24 and under between October 2009 and September 2014.

It also said appropriate adult supervision may help to prevent some deaths.

Eight of the 26 deaths were linked to possible consumption of alcohol and males accounted for 21 fatalities.

One of the report's key recommendations said organisations needed to work together to improve safety.

Sue Mansfield's nephew Robert drowned in Pembroke's Mill Pond after going out drinking with friends to celebrate his 18th birthday in July.

Since then she has campaigned for improved safety in the area.

She told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales: "It is hard, we just want to try and do this so hopefully Robert's death will be the last of that kind there is at the Mill Pond."

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Robert Mansfield spent his birthday celebrating with family and friends

Drowning cases

  • 21 deaths (81%) involved people aged 12-24 - these mostly involved "open water" like lakes and ponds
  • Five (19%) were children aged 11 and under - these deaths tended to involve "closed water" environments like swimming pools
  • 21 deaths (81%) involved males

Dr Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental health protection for Public Health Wales, said: "The death of a child or young person is a tragedy which has an immeasurable impact on families, friends, and communities. That is why it is so important that we do everything we can to reduce the risks.

"We hope the recommendations emerging from this report will help agencies to work together to reduce drowning rates in a new national forum to improve water safety."

The report said consistent guidance is needed for parents and carers on safe bathing advice for children with epilepsy as there is "currently no widely shared consensus".

David Walker from the Royal Society for the Prevention Accidents (RoSPA), said: "Setting up a new forum that provides clear and balanced water safety messages, together with a coordinated plan for Wales to work on, is a critical first step."

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