DROWNING prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society UK has issued a warning as the six weeks summer holidays kick off to a sizzling start.

It has appealed to people to take note of simple safety messages to avoid a repeat of last summer’s tragedies, when many people lost their lives cooling off in open water not suitable for swimming.

Figures released from the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), of which RLSS UK is a partner, earlier this month revealed that the peak summer months of July and August witnessed the most deaths in 2013, with 106 during the heat wave period.

RLSS UK’s Director of Lifesaving, Adrian Lole, said: “Last year saw a tragic amount of preventable deaths as people flocked to open water sites not suitable for swimming. These sites included rivers, quarries, lakes and reservoirs – all of which have many dangers including very cold water, currents, obstacles and uneven depths. They look so inviting but can be deadly.

“Being aware of the basic principles of open water safety, combined with knowledge and understanding of the hazards, can increase enjoyment and significantly reduce the number deaths each year.

“Any drowning is a tragedy, but the number of people who lost their lives last year was not only extremely sad but extremely worrying.”

Figures show the age group with the highest number of fatalities (31) in 2013 were men aged between 20 and 24.