Blue Town Hall for World Drowning Prevention Day
South Tyneside Council is supporting an international campaign to help raise awareness of the risks associated with water.
South Shields Town Hall is being lit up blue today (Monday 25 July) as part of World Drowning Prevention Day to highlight the dangers which exist around water.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Neighbourhoods, said: "World Drowning Prevention Day is held annually on 25 July. It serves as an opportunity to highlight the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and offer life-saving solutions to prevent it.
"It is important to remember that almost all water is a risk for drowning. Whether that is swimming in cold water or an indoor pool to being near a pond, lake, a bath or a bucket of water, there is a danger, especially where young children are concerned. But it is entirely preventable."
People are encouraged to follow and share drowning prevention and water safety advice, sign themselves and children up for swimming or water safety skills as well as support local drowning prevention charities and groups.
Open waters can be unpredictable and dangerous. The risks include cold temperatures, rip currents or strong tidal flows, hidden depths and debris.
Councillor Gibson said: "Due to our unique coastal location, we are extremely fortunate to have such stunning scenery with beautiful beaches, picturesque riverside areas and streams running through our green spaces. Our seafront area in particular draws in thousands of visitors every year and is extremely popular for its seafront and water activities.
"We promote water safety all year round, but World Drowning Prevention Day gives us an opportunity to highlight the potential dangers of being in and around open water and further encourage people to be vigilant and take all precautions to stay safe, especially with the school summer holidays now upon us and the current hot weather."
RNLI Lifeguards patrol Sandhaven Beach over the summer with visitors urged to observe the notices and swim between the red and yellow flags. People who get into difficulty are encouraged to lie on their back and relax. Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.
Station Manager Jonny Ramanayake, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service's Safety and Education Manager, said the Service had performed multiple water-based rescues in the last year - with an increase predicted given the warmer weather.
He said: "Tragic deaths across the country, including here in the North East in recent weeks have been a harrowing reminder of how dangerous open water can be. These are heart-breaking circumstances in which to provide water safety advice, but the tragedies of last few weeks underline why it is so important.
"This World Drowning Prevention Day, the region's responder agencies are coming together to make one, united plea - please be careful around water this summer.
"It will be hot at times, but we cannot stress enough the risks of cold-water shock, and the effect this has on even the most competent of swimmers.
"Please only consider entering water in controlled environments where there are lifeguards on duty, and do not go for a swim in rivers, lakes, or unsupervised bodies of water where there could be a number of hidden dangers."
An estimated around 236,000 people drown every year. Drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged five to 14. More than 90 per cent of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells, domestic water storage vessels and swimming pools in low and middle-income countries, with children and adolescents in rural areas disproportionately affected.
According to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 301 drowning deaths in the UK in 2019.
Councillor Gibson also chairs the Local Government Association's Coastal Special Interest Group, with the group's 57 member councils supporting World Drowning Prevention Day on a national scale.
For further information about the campaign visit https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-drowning-prevention-day/2022