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One million children need saving from holiday swimming pools every year

  • Over the last five years, 5.2 million children have been saved from a swimming pool while on holiday, an average of 2,858 every day
  • 59 per cent of popular tourist hotels across Europe do not have a qualified lifeguard looking after their pools during the peak summer tourist season
  • A third (31 per cent) of parents who have been to pools with young children admit they don’t watch their children while they are in the water

New research from Direct Line Travel Insurance reveals one million children are saved from swimming pools while on holiday each year1, an average of 2,858 children every single day.

Further research2 amongst popular European hotels with pools found that nearly two thirds (59 per cent) do not have a qualified lifeguard on duty, even during the peak summer tourist season. Just a quarter (27 per cent) of hotels always have a lifeguard watching out for swimmers.

There is no guarantee even for parents staying at five-star rated resorts across Europe, as only 56 per cent have someone qualified monitoring the pool area. When it comes to lower rated resorts, only a third (33 per cent) of four-star hotels offer this safety feature for guests. This reduces to just a fifth (22 per cent) of three-star hotels and just 18 per cent for two-star establishments.

When asked why they don’t have a qualified lifeguard at their swimming pool over a third of hotels (37 per cent) said it was not a legal requirement, while the same number said it was because it is the parents’ responsibility to look after their children.

This comes despite drowning being the second leading cause of injury or death to children in Europe, responsible for 5,000 deaths of 0-19-year olds every year according to the European Child Safety Alliance (ECSA)3. As children can drown in as little as two centimetres of water, it is incredibly important that parents are aware what pool supervision is available and always to watch their children when they are in and around the pool.

Regardless of the risks, a third (31 per cent) of adults4 admit that they don’t actually watch their children when they are in the water, with one in eight (13 per cent) parents believing their child’s safety while swimming is the responsibility of the lifeguard or whoever is closest to the child (three per cent) at the time.

Tom Bishop, head of travel at Direct Line, commented: “While we all look forward to relaxing by the pool when on holiday, it’s important for parents to keep an eye on their children at all times, especially considering so few pools have qualified lifeguards on duty. Given how easy it is for a child to fall into a pool or get into trouble in the water, it is essential that whoever is responsible for the kids should either be in the water with them or watching carefully from the pool’s edge - as even if your children are strong swimmers you cannot rely on other holidaymakers to behave responsibly when using the pool.

“If you or your child are injured abroad, it can not only bring your well-earned holiday plans to a grinding halt but can be much more stressful than an accident at home, with unfamiliar surroundings and language barriers making seeking treatment more difficult. Taking out comprehensive travel insurance at the time of booking a trip will ensure there is support available to help you navigate any medical care you may need, whilst ensuring you’re not left out of pocket too.”

While on holiday, just one in seven (14 per cent) parents4 staying in a hotel with strict pool rules in place felt that pool safety was a priority for the hotel and eight per cent of parents said their hotel had limited or no rules at all for pool use.

Nearly one in ten parents4 (nine per cent) believe their child would be fine swimming alone if they are wearing buoyancy aids or arm bands and in fact, the majority of hotels (83 per cent) surveyed did have buoyancy aids available. However, The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)5, points out that inflatables such as, buoyancy aids are not a substitute for supervision or swimming ability.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)5 offers the following advice to parents when going on holiday with a swimming pool:

Before travelling:

  • Check the safety arrangements in advance
  • Teach children never to swim alone
  • Be cautious when booking villas that do not have safety fencing
  • Take a first aid course and know how to resuscitate a child
  • Ask your travel company if the hotel pool has a lifeguard

When on holiday:

  • Actively supervise all young children near water
  • Choose pools that are fenced with locking gates
  • Even if a pool has a lifeguard, know where your children are and what they are doing in the water
  • Let children take swimming classes whilst on holiday as they are a great way of gaining water confidence and leaning essential water safety skills
  • Inflatables are not a substitute for supervision or swimming ability

Notes to Editors

1 Research conducted by Opinium amongst 2,005 UK adults between 25 and 29 May 2018
2 Independent research conducted among 100 European hotels between 21st and 24th May 2018
3 Findings from European Child Safety Alliance http://www.childsafetyeurope.org/injurytopics/drowningwatersafety/index.html
4 Adults who have been to a pool resort with children under 18
5 ROSPA advice on preventing drowning while on holiday - https://www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/holiday-swimming-pool/

For further information please contact:

Claire Jarrett
PR Manager
Direct Line Group
Tel: 01651 832 411
Email: claire.jarrett@directlinegroup.co.uk

Antonia Green
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
antonia.green@citigatedewerogerson.com
0207 282 2967

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/travel-insurance