One in eight North West people has nearly died in water and a 10th of those surveyed knew someone who had fatally drowned, a shock new survey has found.
The bad weather might be delaying the usual dangerous summer exploits in open water, but it is only a matter of time before it warms up and during the current Drowning Prevention Week, warnings were being issued and the Wigan public being invited to take part in activities aimed at saving lives.
The area has had its share of tragedies over the years. In 1999, Craig Croston, 17, from Platt Bridge, drowned while swimming with friends in East Quarry in Appley Bridge.
In 2015 13-year-old Marsh Green schoolboy Miracle Godson died in a water-filled quarry at Appley Bridge after getting into difficulty while swimming.
Despite the youngster’s death and landowners’ attempts to tighten security around the site further, youngsters have continued to trespass and swim there.
And last year, Greater Manchester recorded the joint highest number of accidental drownings in the UK, with 12 people losing their lives, compared to nine in 2017. A staggering 39 people have drowned in the last five years (2014-2018), making it the joint fifth highest-ranking county for drowning tragedies.
Drowning Prevention Week, organised by The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), will see hundreds of leisure centres, schools, businesses and organisations utilising RLSS UK’s free water safety resources in their communities.
The UK’s leading leisure operators including Places for People, GLL, Parkwood, Everyone Active, Freedom Leisure and Serco, have elected to run a programme of activities across all their sites, meaning more than 800,00 people will receive water safety messaging throughout the campaign.
RLSS UK is urging Wiganers to contact their local leisure centres to find out what activities they are running as part of DPW.
Its boss Robert Gofton, RLSS UK CEO said: “Drowning destroys families and devastates communities. Every year, we see a tragic amount of preventable deaths as people flock to open water sites that are not suitable for swimming. It may seem an inviting way to cool off, but there are very real and very deadly dangers at these sites, such as extremely cold water, uneven depths and hidden debris that people can get injured on or caught in.
“Most people are surprised to learn that you are more likely to die from drowning than from being hit by a car or in a fire. We believe that the majority of drowning incidents can be prevented and urge people to swim where it’s safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks.”