Water accidents up significantly from last year

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A water area (picture is illustrative) Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The Rescue Board (Päästeamet) has already responded to 163 calls regarding water accidents this year with 34 people having drowned in the first seven months of the year. The share of drownings involving alcohol has also gone up.

While there were 94 accidents involving water in total for 2020, the first seven months has already brought 163. 34 people have lost their lives this year with 16 drowning in the summer months.

"This sad data is characterized mainly by people overestimating their swimming skills, alcohol consumption and not keeping an eye on children. Often times, all this combined," said Nõmme rescue command unit leader Tõnis Ristmägi.

Rescuers are organizing raids in popular swimming locations throughout the summer to prevent accidents and people with children are reminded that a safe depth for an adult can be dangerous for a child. Rubber floats and swimming rings can also be dangerous.

"For example, if the wind comes from the land side, these swimming devices can float toward the sea. As can swimming preserver-shaped equipment, which children can get their heads stuck in. These things flip and can lead to fatal consequences," Ristmägi said.

This summer, the Rescue Board has installed safety buoys in public swimming locations that can be grabbed to catch your breath or wait for help.

Accidents involving boats and yachts are mainly related to overloading, inexperience and alcohol consumption. "Data shows that if people are wearing safety vests, these accidents would not happen, because if the safety vest is not correctly fastened, it just flies off when the person hits the water," Ristmägi noted.

Data from the first six months of the year shows that the rate of drownings involving drunk people is up from the same period last year. 71 percent of drowned people had consumed alcohol prior, up from 63 percent last year. The highest level of intoxication was 3.94 per mille.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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