Spanish authorities call for caution amongst swimmers

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THE authorities are calling for more caution amongst swimmers as figures have been released by the Royal Spanish Federation of Rescue and Lifesaving (RFESS) revealing that 115 people have drowned in the country since the beginning of July.

Of a total of 235 drowning cases in the country so far this year, 85 were in July alone, the Federation explained, and another 30 were registered during the first two weeks of August.

An estimated 58 per cent of the deaths happened on beaches, figures reveal, which a report from Camilo Jose Cela University has blamed on strong rip currents. 

Geologist Antonio de la Cruz explained: “These are not typical currents found between waves, they are like rivers that pull swimmers out to sea.”

Rip currents are found particularly on Valencia beaches, and occur when excess amounts of water reach the shoreline and are forced back out to sea by a lack of depth.

Also of note in the RFESS report is the fact that 68 per cent of deaths happen in areas where no lifeguards are posted and that 9.8 per cent of those drowned were children under the age of 10.

The most frequent causes of drowning, according to Mapfre insurance company, are ignoring lifeguards’ warnings, being unable to swim and being unfamiliar with water.

To this effect the Spanish Ministry of Health has released a series of recommendations for swimmers to avoid accidents at beaches, rivers or pools.

  • Choose safe places to bathe that are supervised by lifeguards.
  • Keep an eye on children at all times when they are in the water or near it. Do not let them swim unaccompanied.
  • If you do not know how to swim or are not a strong swimmer, use a life vest when in the water.
  • Always follow the three-flag warning system on beaches.
  • Drinking alcohol before bathing reduces the ability to react to danger and could lead to unsafe behaviour.
  • Swimming at night is very dangerous.
  • Leave the water as quickly as possible if you feel tired or cold.
  • Test the temperature before entering the water.
  • Wait two hours after eating before taking a swim.
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