WHO Safety Guidelines Released

The World Health Organisation has released, “Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments, Volume 1, Coastal and Fresh Waters.” This document was developed with input from the International Life Saving Federation.

In its initial inception, this document emphasised water cleanliness, as a function of water safety, over drowning prevention. Due to intervention by ILS and a willingness on the part of WHO to accept input from ILS, the document was modified significantly to recognise the relatively high importance of drowning prevention. While the document is heavily weighted, in terms of total content, toward water cleanliness, a chapter on Drowning and Injury Prevention appears first, after the introductory chapter.

It is sometimes a challenge to have an impact on a global organisation the size of WHO. In this case, due to persistence of ILS representatives and willingness of WHO staff to adjust their approach, the balance of emphasis in this document has been improved significantly to target the most serious threat to public safety posed by water. It should be of great value for all who are involved in drowning prevention.