River and lake bathers urged to take care

Morven McLean
Morven McLean - [email protected]
River and lake bathers urged to take care

People plunging into Switzerland’s rivers and lakes to cool off are being urged to read warning signs as the number of drowning victims reached 26.


The number of casualties by mid-July was almost as high as in the whole of last year. Nine of the victims were foreign nationals.

Bathing rules, currently in German, French and Italian, are now to be translated into a number of additional languages.

The number of victims is expected to increase as the summer continues. In 2013, another hot, sunny summer, 52 people drowned.

“The good weather is a factor,” said Philipp Binaghi, spokesperson for the Swiss life savers society (SLRG), in a report by the Swiss news agency SDA.

The more people go swimming the more likely accidents are, he said. But swimmers are also not aware enough of the risks, he added.

“Most accidents could be avoided if people followed the six bathing rules,” Binaghi said.


The six rules are:

1)   Children must be accompanied by an adult. Young children must not be out of eyeshot.

2)   Never enter the water in a state of intoxication or under the influence of drugs. Never swim on a full or empty stomach.

3)   Never jump into the water if you are overheated. The body needs time to adjust its temperature.

4)   Never dive into murky water, or bodies of water that you do not know.

5)   Air mattresses and swim aids do not belong in deep water: they do not provide protection.

6)   Never swim a long stretch alone. Even the fittest can experience sudden weakness.


The nine foreigners who died included two Eritrean asylum seekers and one person each from Britain, India, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Morocco and Nigeria.

Binaghi said that while the Swiss grew up around water, thanks to all the lakes and rivers, this did not always apply to people from other countries.

The SLRG now intends to translate the six bathing rules into four new languages: Tigrinya (spoken in Eritrea), Arabic, Tamil and English.

The second at-risk group was young adults, the SLRG spokesperson said, accounting for 30 per cent of deaths.

More than three-quarters of the casualties were men, with women and children making up around ten per cent each.


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