Why our water safety campaign is so vital
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Water safety in Suffolk and north Essex is more important than ever after a series of high profile cases and fears that the number of accidental drowning incidents could rise.
The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) says it expects families to flock to water locations in the UK as many choose to take staycations due to travel restrictions.
It says many people, especially children, have missed vital swimming lessons and sessions due to lockdown and pool closures, leaving them unprepared.
The warning comes after this newspaper launched the Play It Safe campaign urging people to enjoy the county's lakes, rivers and seas responsibly.
According to the charity, the pandemic has left a "dramatic gap" in school swimming and water safety education, with an average of over 400 people dying of accidental drowning each year, a number which the RLSS says is on the rise.
The RLSS says, young people from low incomes and ethnic minority communities have been the hardest hit, with 95% of black adults and 80% of black children unable to swim.
RLSS UK director, Lee Heard, said: “We are surrounded by opportunities to be in or near water.
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"Whatever their age and activity level, everyone should be having fun, creating memories and feeling at ease around the water.
"The inequality in access to swimming and water safety education, and subsequent lack of potential interaction with the water is a big concern.
“We urge as many parents and carers as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources, and give children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water. “
There have been serious drowning incidents in Suffolk and north Essex in recent years.
In August 2019 siblings Malika Shamas, 14, and Haider Ali, 18, died from drowning and pneumonia in Clacton.
In July 2018 15-year-old Clacton boy Ben Quartermaine also got into difficulty while in the water.
He was missing for two days before his body was found by a member of the public early on a Saturday morning.
Those wishing to get involved in the Play It Safe campaign can get in touch to get our water safety poster to display.