Dorset recorded the fourth highest number of accidental drownings in the country last year, shock figure show.

Seven people lost their lives in the county in 2018, compared to four who drowned here the previous year.

An indepedent survey carried out by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) revealed that one in eight people in the south west have nearly drowned in the water, and that six per cent knew someone who had drowned.

Twenty seven people have drowned in Dorset over the past five years, the figures show.

This latest report has been released to coincide with the RLSS UK's Drowning Prevention Week campaign, which runs until June 24.

RLSS UK chief executive officer Robert Gofton said: "Drowning destroys families and devastates communities.

"Every year, we see a tragic amount of preventable deaths as people flock to open water sites that are not suitable for swimming. It may seem an inviting way to cool off, but there are very real and very deadly dangers at these sites, such as extremely cold water, uneven depths and hidden debris that people can get injured on or caught in.

"Most people are surprised to learn that you are more likely to die from drowning than from being hit by a car or in a fire.

"We believe that the majority of drowning incidents can be prevented and urge people to swim where it’s safe.

"Don’t take unnecessary risks.”

The RLSS is urging people to take part in local activities organised as part of its campaign.

A Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "We fully support the drowning prevention week safety messages and encourage everyone to be aware of the risks around water and keep themselves and others safe.

"We encourage teachers to visit the RLSS UK website where there is a range of excellent water safety activities for delivery in schools to help the children and young people to understand how they can keep themselves and others safe, and what to do in an emergency.”

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