Last year alone, careless behaviour in the water claimed the lives of 159 people in our country, which is four times more than the European Union average. Over the past five years, as many as 37 children have drowned and the lives of 35 children have been saved. Such cruel statistics force us to speak more rigorously and openly about the problem at hand – the lack of swimming skills and its fatal consequences. This is the purpose of a new social campaign organised by the Lithuanian Swimming Federation and supported by the Lithuanian company Girteka Logistics, which encourages parents to teach their children to swim.
According to the specialists of the Lithuanian Swimming Federation (LSF), in many cases that ended in an accident, children who drowned could have survived if they had only been able to float or swim a few metres.
“The holiday season brings vacationers to water bodies, and during the cold season – to swimming pools indoors. Therefore, lifeguards always work with great anxiety – when going to swim people forget that water is not only a source of entertainment, but it can also endanger those who do not protect themselves or their loved ones. The most painful thing is that not only adults but also children drown and die when they overestimate their strength or ignore the instructions of lifeguards.
In the new clip, which may seem too bold, and perhaps even shocking, we want to draw attention to a painful issue – the lack of swimming skills – and encourage parents to teach their children how to swim. It is the responsibility and responsibility of every parent to ensure that their child is able to behave safely in the water, and, if necessary, use the swimming skills,“ says Ignas Vaičaitis, Project Manager of the Lithuanian Swimming Federation.
His opinion is also supported by Mindaugas Belickas, the head of the 5th Team of Kaunas County Fire and Rescue Board. According to him, it is necessary to teach children not only to swim correctly, but also teach them how to properly breathe, dive, float on their back.
“We must strive for children to learn how to properly swim long distances without getting too tired, how to dive, rest by inhaling air while floating in water on their backs or swimming on their backs. Statistics of Kaunas Fire and Rescue Board show that many people drown in calm water – ponds, lakes, very close to the shore, as they fall into pits or, upon swimming 10–40 metres from the shore, get tired and eventually drown. Also, some people drown upon unexpectedly falling in the water,” Belickas shares the experience of firefighters.
According to Simonas Bartkus, Director of Marketing and Communications at Girteka Logistics, the largest asset-based transportation company in Europe, the number of children who drown in the country every year is very close to the number of children who die in traffic accidents.
“For many years, our company has been taking care of educating the public, especially children, about safe behaviour on the roads. We encourage children to wear reflectors, to know the most important road traffic rules, however, not enough is being done regarding safety at water bodies and the issues are not discussed as much as is necessary. As we contribute to this social campaign, we want to draw attention to the importance of protecting both ourselves and our loved ones wherever we are – on the streets, on the roads, and by providing children with vital swimming skills,” says S. Bartkus.
For many years, LSF has been implementing the project “Learn how to Swim and Behave Safely in the Water” in order to teach second-graders how to swim. Thanks to it, almost fifty thousand children learned how to swim during the eight years of the project’s existence.
“Certified swimming training programs are extremely important because they allow children to gradually get used to the water, learn how to breathe properly, and how to float. When better swimming skills are developed, we start teaching children how to swim properly – first with aids and later without them. During the classes, children are also taught the rules of safe behaviour in and near the water, they are introduced to the initial lifesaving operations,” says Milda Šeibokaitė, Head of the swimming training project.
With the new social campaign, LSF aims to reduce the number of drownings in Lithuania and to raise a responsible generation that knows how to swim and how to safely behave in the water bodies. You can find out more information about drowning prevention on the website neskesk.lt developed especially for the project.
In preparation for the campaign, LSF consulted with representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children Rights, the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania and the Inspector of Journalist Ethics concerning the permission to spread the message in such a bold way and received their approval to broadcast this video clip publicly.
Authors of the video clip – agency Not Perfect.