Children learn how to stay safe in the sea this summer

Hayling Island RNLI boat. The RNLI were called to 320 incidents in Hampshire during 2018.'Picture: Keith Woodland (110519-81)
Hayling Island RNLI boat. The RNLI were called to 320 incidents in Hampshire during 2018.'Picture: Keith Woodland (110519-81)
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WITH the region’s children currently enjoying half term and the summer holidays fast approaching a new programme has been launched to ensure youngsters stay safe while enjoying the sea.

Across the summer term, Hampshire school children are to take part in a specially developed lesson to learn simple survival techniques for how to stay afloat and alive in open water.
The initiative is a collaboration between Hampshire County Council, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the University of Portsmouth.

The ‘Stay Afloat’ lesson has been devised by the RNLI and extreme environments expert, Professor Mike Tipton from the University of Portsmouth.

The interactive session will teach pupils about the potential dangers of the sea including rip currents and tides. One of the key messages is the importance of staying relaxed and to float until breathing is under control.

Andrew Laws from the RNLI said: ‘Around 165 people lose their lives at the UK and Irish coasts each year, and over half never even planned to enter the water. In addition, many people lose their lives in inland waterways every year. The highest risk group for accidental drowning is males aged 15 to 29, which is why this lesson is designed for young people from 13 upwards. We’ve been pleased to work with the County Council in this way in a bid to reach thousands of young people and highlight this important water safety message.’

Teachers across the region will use a series of specially prepared resources to deliver the lesson to all pupils from Year 8 to Year 11. The lesson begins with a short film focusing on two potential life-threatening situations that teenagers might find themselves in – rip currents at the beach and cold water shock. Subsequent tasks then look at how people should react in such situations. 
Councillor Roz Chadd, the executive member for education and skills at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘We’re delighted to be launching this lesson which will help ensure that children and young people are better equipped to handle the potential dangers of open water swimming. By teaching simple survival knowledge and techniques across all Hampshire schools we aim to reduce the risk of accidental drownings.’
In 2018, RNLI lifeboats launched 320 times in Hampshire. Inland drowning has also been a problem in the county. Between 2010 and 2017, there were 15 inland water deaths in Hampshire.