Swimming instructors are teaching thousands of children how to be safe and have fun near water, as part of a national drowning prevention campaign.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has offered free 30-minute assemblies or classroom sessions to all primary and secondary schools during the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) annual project.
Instructors are also delivering poolside water safety sessions for all children on the authority’s education and after-school swimming programmes.
The city council is working with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to deliver the talks between June 17 and 28.
Each assembly or classroom session will include information from an experienced instructor, as well as a lifeguard, and be based on the importance of water safety for both swimmers and non-swimmers.
Children will also get the chance to see rescue equipment, watch a drowning prevention video, and ask the experts questions about water safety.
Schools will also be offered leaflets, free downloadable resources and activities for the children to complete or take home.
The separate poolside water safety sessions will be delivered to more than 3,800 children over two weeks and include lessons on vital life-saving skills which can help to keep them safe.
Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, the city council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “We want children to learn these incredibly important skills and benefit from all of the knowledge that our instructors can pass on.
“The message from Drowning Prevention Week is something that can stay with these children for the rest of their lives. With the summer holidays coming up, it’s vitally important that we spread that information to as many young people as possible.”
Glynn Luznyj, director of prevent and protect at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have seen some tragic events take place in Staffordshire involving lakes, rivers and canals, which is why we feel it is so important to educate people on water safety.
“Our crews are always looking for ways to speak to all residents, but particularly children and young people, about drowning prevention and water safety. We visit schools to discuss a number of issues and fully support the after-school swimming programme the council is putting in place.
“We know the weather is expected to get warmer in the coming weeks and the temptations to swim in open water may be high, but please avoid this. We advise you only swim at properly supervised pools. Please follow our tips to stay safe and avoid disasters in the water.”
National Drowning Prevention Week was created by the RLSS to reduce the number of drowning and non-fatal drowning incidents in the UK, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water. This year it runs from Friday, June 14 to Monday, June 24.
Robert Gofton, RLSS UK chief executive, said: “Drowning destroys families and devastates communities. It may seem an inviting way to cool off on a hot day, but open water sites disguise very real and very deadly dangers such as extremely cold water, uneven depths and hidden debris that people can get injured on or caught in.
“It’s fantastic to see partnership working across Stoke-on-Trent, all with one aim – to educate people about water safety – and with support for Drowning Prevention Week this year from the Department for Education, we hope to see these messages spread far and wide.
“This summer, I’d urge everyone at home or abroad to be your family’s lifeguard, know what to do in an emergency, don’t drink and drown and don’t take unnecessary risks around water.”
For all media enquiries please contact the press office at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 233653 (journalists only).