Drowning accidents slightly up on year ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Spring water may be very cold and coronavirus pandemic measures are limiting gatherings, but the Rescue Board has still issued its latest water safety advice.
Spring water may be very cold and coronavirus pandemic measures are limiting gatherings, but the Rescue Board has still issued its latest water safety advice. Source: Laura Raudnagel/ERR

Nineteen people have died in drowning accidents in Estonia so far this year, three more than the same time in 2019. Around three-quarters of victims had not gotten into difficulty while swimming, according to a report on ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera".

"There is a tendency to drown in rather random bodies of water- ditches, ponds and lakes, where there can often be some sort of active social life nearby," said Gert Teder, head of the Rescue Board's (Päästeamet) Lilleküla group.

The average age of victims is 57, the report said.

The Rescue Board's conducts an annual water safety campaign, focusing on a different group each year.

This year the campaign is called "champions get tired too" ("ka tšempionid väsivad"), which focuses on the elderly, an at-risk group, according to communications manager at security firm G4s Reimo Raja.

"For example, every summer we have situations where an older person who experiences a sudden health disorder has to be brought out of the water," said Raja.

"Elderly people and those with chronic diseases - heart disease, kidney disease, ear complications, issues with balance etc. - should make sure that they feel well, and do not go swimming alone - someone knows that they are also swimming," said family doctor Elle-Mall Keevallik.

Advice not just aimed at the elderly

Beaches often have no lifeguards at present with the pandemic and relatively cold water, meaning anyone who does want to brave the conditions should not go alone, Reimo Raja said.

Alcohol was also a major contributor to fatalities, with over half of victims having consumed it, Dr Keevallik said.

"The ability to react is slower and the blood circulation also becomes slower. Because of this, there is a risk that a person will not react correctly," she noted.

Additionally, households with small children should consider safety, for example by fencing off any bodies of water from gardens and keeping an eye on children on the beach at all times.

"There should always be a parent with the child on the beach, who stays with the child, can guide him / her, teach him / her and, if necessary, intervene quickly if this child is in danger for some reason," Raja said.

The Rescue Board also recommends making a child wear a wristband with their name and a contact number written thereon, at least on crowded beaches.

"The best and simplest recipe is to never overestimate yourself, and never underestimate a body of water," Gert Teder said.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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