8:02am Friday 13th June 2014
WITH the temperature continuing to rise people are already courting danger by cooling off in open water.
Photos of a man paddling in the river Severn opposite Brown's Restaurant, Quay Steet, Worcester, have circulated on social media websites ahead of the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s national campaign, Drowning Prevention Week.
The campaign, which runs from Saturday, June 21 to Sunday, June 29, aims to cut down the hundreds of deaths caused by accidental drowning across the UK and is adding to its focus audience of primary school-aged children by targeting 11 to15-year-olds.
Royal Life Saving Society UK's chief executive, Di Steer, said: “We all know water is fun and we do not want to scare young people from ever going near it. But it is important for them to know that frivolity can very quickly turn to fatality if great care is not taken.
“Young people often believe they are immortal and take unnecessary risks. We want to make them aware of dangers they may not have thought of and stop them from making blind decisions that could be life changing or even life ending.
"We urge as many people as possible to share our messages and get involved in Drowning Prevention Week in any way they can.”
The move to target 11-15-year-olds, particularly boys, comes in a bid to help avoid a tragic repeat of last summer when more than 30 people lost their lives to drowning in just seven weeks, many of them young men and boys.
It is hoped a new short film produced by the charity about a young boy who takes part in a dare with tragic consequences will help drive the message home to thrill seeking young people.
Last year Justas Juzenas, aged 22, of Three Crosses Road, Ross-on-Wye, and 17-year-old Russell O'Neill, of Ronkswood, Worcester, died at Gullet Quarry, near Castlemorton, within a week of each other in July last year.
Malvern Hills Conservators, which owns the quarry, implemented a number of safety measures earlier this year, including better fences and signs, a rescue line, and planting thorny shrubs to obstruct access to some areas of the quarry after commissioning the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
This followed the death of 17-year-old Tony Ballard of Jasmine Close, St Peter's, Worcester, the son of city vicar the Rev Duncan Ballard, who died after getting into difficulties while swimming with three friends in the river Severn in June 2009.
Drowning Prevention Week and the work of the charity has been supported by the family of Richard Fellows, who drowned at the age of just 15 on March 16 when he got into difficulties after swimming with two friends at Arrow Valley Country Park in Redditch.
Accidental drowning causes about 400 UK deaths every year, the equivalent of one person drowning every 20 hours.
Thousands more suffer near drowning experiences, some resulting in life changing injuries.
Drowning is still the third highest cause of accidental death in children in the UK.
For more information, go to drowningpreventionweek.org.uk.
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