People across the country are being urged to dress like a superhero for a day to save lives. The gesture backs Water Safety Awareness Week, which is taking place June 16 – 24.
The call comes after British Olympic diver Nick Robinson Baker launched the countdown to the drowning prevention awareness campaign last week.
Nick, 24, who became a lifesaver when he rescued fellow diver Monique Gladding from the water at a World Cup meeting in Russia last year, is spearheading Water Safety Awareness Week, by the Royal Lifesaving Society UK (RLSS UK).
Water Safety Awareness Week climaxes on Friday 22 June, when everyone is being asked to take part in Top Trunks by wearing their swimming kit over the top of their clothes for the day and posting photos of themselves online.
Nick explains: “The idea is that on Friday 22 June as many people as possible wear their swimming trunks and costumes over their normal clothes and go about their normal lives. It will be a really visual prompt to people to find out more about Water Safety Awareness Week.
“All we ask is that people email photos of themselves in their Top Trunks outfits to firstname.lastname@example.org and that they pay a minimum of £1 to RLSS UK via JustGiving by searching on the Royal Life Saving Society UK.
“As I found out, you’ll never know when you may need to save someone’s life, and this will be a really fun way to encourage people to learn how they and their loved ones can be safe in, on, or near water.”
The launch of Water Safety Awareness Week follows a spike in drownings across the UK and Ireland in recent weeks.
RLSS UK - the national water safety and drowning prevention charity - hopes its national campaign will help to reduce the annual number of accidental deaths from drowning in the UK. Latest available figures, from the National Water Safety Forum, show that there were 420 accidental deaths from drowning in 2010 – one nearly every 17 hours.
Di Standley, chief executive of national charity RLSS UK, said: “We hope that the idea of Top Trunks will catch on and become more popular each year. It’s a light-hearted way of getting across a serious message. Even if just one life is saved as a result of Water Safety Awareness Week, then it will be a success.”
One person who will be following Top Trunks with interest is Leamington Spa charity worker Sally Crowther, 32, whose father drowned in Crete in 2004.
She said: "It was horrible. Unfortunately we'll never know what really happened but perhaps he decided to go for an early morning swim on his own and just couldn't cope with the tide.
"My dad drowning is one of the worst things that my family and I have ever gone through and I would never want anyone else to go through the same thing.
"I think that Water Safety Awareness Week is not just important, it's essential. Open water needs to be respected and understood. Please don't let what happened to my dad also happen to you."
Money raised from Water Safety Awareness Week will help RLSS UK to deliver water safety packs for school children, free community lifesaving sessions and the charity’s ‘Don’t drink and drown’ campaign.
Find out more about Top Trunks and follow the Week on Twitter at #WSAW2012.
Five top water safety tips from RLSSS UK
1. Teach your children to swim and if they or you don’t swim, go for lessons
2. Accompany any children in your care in the water, staying within your depth. It’s more fun and you can keep them close and safe
3. Never swim alone.
4. Only swim at lifeguarded beaches and lakes
5. Look out for lifesaving classes at your local swimming pool
For more details on drowning statistics, information and a drowning case study, please go to the media pack
Photography of Sally Crowther is available upon request
Notes to editors
The Royal Life Saving Society UK is the governing body and leading provider of training and education in lifesaving, lifeguarding, water safety and life support skills in the UK. Each year its volunteers train approximately 1 million people in water safety, rescue techniques and life support, including 95 per cent of all pool and beach lifeguards. As a national charity, RLSS UK relies on public support.
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