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Fatal Rhine accident triggers warning for swimmers

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Fatal Rhine accident triggers warning for swimmers
Rescue workers at Silbersee II in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA
12:46 CEST+02:00
Entering the water in the hot summer months can have fatal consequences, and young men in particular are at risk of disregarding swimming rules at the cost of their lives.

Following the first deadly swimming accidents of the year, the German Lifesaving Society (die Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft, or DLRG), reiterated basic rules of conduct for outdoor swimming on Tuesday.

On Thursday, a dinghy capsized on the Rhine in the Alsace region of France. Two of the boat's occupants died, as did a 22-year-old man who entered the water to try and save the victims. A young girl from Baden-Württemberg remains missing. Furthermore, four people have died in Germany in swimming accidents over the weekend.

READ ALSO: Search for four-year-old German girl missing after boat accident in France

DLRG representative, Achim Wiese in Bad Nenndorf near Hannover, emphasized that “the first piece of advice is to heed basic swimming rules.”

Wiese highlighted that there is a swimming ban in place along all of the Rhine. 

Even an adult would have significant difficulty emerging from the Rhine's currents, “how then, could a four-year old child, who cannot even swim, manage at all?”

Justifiably, these basic rules also include not swimming where there is shipping traffic and not swimming under the influence of alcohol, as well as ensuring that you cool off before entering the water on hot days.

According to Wiese, if you swim after consuming alcohol, you are at risk of losing your sense of direction. Swimming in hot weather, and jumping straight into the water without first cooling off, threatens the possibility of circulatory collapse. Jumping from bridges or from pathways along the coast is also dangerous, he added.

It is young men in particular who are at the highest risk of water-related accidents. Wiese highlighted that almost 80 percent of drowning victims are men, and, above all, young men. This group often overestimates their own abilities, and underestimates the danger.

In 2018 at least 504 people in Germany died following swimming accidents, the DLRG said in a report at the end of February.

The organization will present its new annual report on Thursday.

 
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