With eight million British holidaymakers heading overseas for a holiday in August and millions making the most of summer on the UK coastline, ABTA and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), the drowning prevention charity, are again reminding holidaymakers to follow safety tips and swim safely. In Europe, authorities are warning families and holidaymakers to be especially careful this summer as record temperatures have encouraged people unaccustomed to the water to go swimming. Sadly, in France alone, over 115 people – locals and holidaymakers – have drowned in the sea, rivers, lakes and pools, since the summer began. This higher than average number has prompted French authorities to urge families and holidaymakers to be ‘vigilant’ when swimming this summer.

Last year ABTA was made aware of 16 fatal drownings abroad of UK holidaymakers, seven in swimming pools and nine in the sea.

ABTA and the RLSS UK encourage people to be aware of the following when swimming:

Families should take care around water and not rely on lifeguards

Families are urged to take particular care and parents are reminded to keep children under constant supervision, even when lifeguards are available. Lifeguards where present are there to observe and predict unsafe situations as well as providing assistance and help during an emergency, they are not there to supervise individual children. 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.

Simple steps save lives

Sadly accidents happen each year and drownings are reported which could have been avoided by taking some simple precautions, such as following safety information. ABTA research* in 2014 worryingly 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. Don’t be misled, just because the sea looks calm, that it is always safe. 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.

Know your ability

ABTA research shows that that one in five people (18%)* know someone who has got into difficulty whilst swimming on holiday and incidents can also occur when people overestimate their swimming ability or fitness. Many holidaymakers may not realise how much more challenging swimming in open water can be, even for strong swimmers. Holidaymakers should also be aware of dangerous currents or rip tides which can be very powerful.

Nikki White, ABTA’s Head of Destinations and Sustainability, said: “With the main summer season underway, millions of holidaymakers will be heading to some fantastic destinations at home and abroad. Unfortunately, each year there are accidents in the water, some with devastating consequences. Swimming should be one of the pleasures of a holiday, and simple steps can save lives, keep you and your loved ones safe, and help keep the water fun for everyone this summer and beyond.”

RLSS UK, UK Chief Executive, Di Steer said: “As the UK’s drowning prevention charity we are delighted to again join ABTA in highlighting water safety to all those going on holiday. Swimming and enjoying the water on holiday, whether at home or abroad, is a huge part of the summer break, but it’s important that children and adults alike know what their limitations are and that they treat the pool and the sea as very different environments.

“We all know water is fun but it’s truly tragic that people lose their lives to accidental drowning every year, and that near drowning incidents – many of which could have been avoided - are all too common. Have fun in the water but I would urge everyone to read our safety advice before their trip and also educate their children. It could be the best decision people make, as important as remembering their passport, and avoid a summer holiday becoming a family tragedy.”

ABTA works closely with its Members providing 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