As millions of families get ready to head away for their summer holidays, ABTA is urging families to Swim Safe and take simple steps to ensure their children are safe in the water.
According to statistics1 from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 30 children under ten years old have drowned in holiday swimming pools abroad over a six-year period, with more than half of these victims under 4 years old. Last year ABTA was made aware of 19 fatal drownings abroad of UK holidaymakers, 7 in swimming pools and 12 in the sea.
Families are urged to take care and always follow pool and beach rules and local signs, check the pool layout to know where the deep and shallow ends are and never leave your child unsupervised. Parents are reminded to keep children under constant supervision, even when lifeguards are available.
Worryingly, ABTA research2 in 2014 revealed that over one in ten people (12%) don’t check safety information, such as zoned areas for boats or jet skis before they swim. This is especially important on holiday, where people typically swim in unfamiliar environments and where dangerous currents or powerful rip tides may be present – holidaymakers should seek local advice before they swim.
Nikki White, Director of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA, said: “Unfortunately, each year there are accidents in the water, some with devastating consequences. Swimming should be one of the pleasures of a holiday, and following some simple steps can save lives, keep you and your loved ones safe, and help keep the water fun for everyone this summer.”
David Walker, Leisure Safety Manager for RoSPA, said: "We are pleased to be supporting ABTA's Swim Safe campaign this year. The vast majority of family holidays leave nothing but happy memories, but unfortunately some do end in tragedy. By following these few simple steps, you can make sure that everyone has a happy and safe holiday."
Wherever you’re swimming, follow ABTA’s top tips for swimming safety:
- Make the most of your time in the water
- Brush up on your swimming skills before you go away.
- If you’ve got kids then get in the water with them – it’s easier to keep an eye on them as well as good fun – remember children should always be kept under constant supervision in or near water.
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Always follow pool rules and local signs.
- Check the pool layout to know where the deep and shallow ends are, especially before jumping or diving in.
- Check warning flags and signage on the beach.
- Beware of dangerous currents: these can be very powerful. Ask locally if there are any known dangerous currents or dangers caused by the tides and avoid swimming in these areas.
- Beware of underwater hazards, such as reefs, rocks, sudden changes in depth and marine life.
- Don’t dive or jump from rocks, piers, breakwaters or poolside furniture.
- Follow safety advice
- Speak to reps, hoteliers or local people about pools and local beaches.
- Read the pool rules before you swim and remember, not all holiday accommodations employ lifeguards.
- Never swim where a sign says not to e.g. in zoned areas for jet boats or jet skis, or where the lifeguards have identified as being unsafe (possibly due to hazards that you can’t see)
- If there is a flag warning system, learn what it means.
- Look out for others
- Never swim alone, ‘buddy up’ with others in your party.
- Children should be supervised by an adult at all times and never left unattended, even if a lifeguard is present.
- Armbands can be a good training aid for children but are not a substitute for supervision.
- Never swim at night or after drinking alcohol.
- Know how and where to get help, if you see someone in difficulty; raise the alarm - preferably the emergency services – ensure you know the correct number for the country you’re in.
- Don’t overestimate your ability
- Consider lessons before you go if you think you might need them.
- Even if you regularly swim in a pool, remember that open water can be very different, and cold water reduces the distance that you can swim significantly, even for strong swimmers.
ABTA provides information for holidaymakers on how to stay safe in the water, for more details and to download posters, videos and leaflets visit: www.abta.com/swimsafe