OLDER men with cardiovascular problems are the key demographic running the risk of drowning off the Spanish coast, according to a concerning new report from the Real Spanish Federation of Lifesaving.
The organisation is running an ongoing campaign in multiple languages to help prevent tragic deaths at sea by spreading public awareness of the risks involved and how to avoid them.
Its latest figures indicate that 262 people have drowned in 2016 so far, with more than 400 having perished in 2015.
Following the deaths of six people in just two days on Valencian beaches, the Federation has issued advice for bathers and swimmers with no desire to become another statistic.
A key message is that nine out of ten deaths occurred in areas not patrolled by lifeguards, outside of blue flag beaches where surveillance is mandatory. There is also a call for enhanced public understanding that a red flag signifies danger, not merely nanny state advice against swimming.
People are advised that heat, dehydration, and overexertion triggering sudden heart attacks or problems are the chief threat, not necessarily being overcome by the water itself. Many victims believe they can reach a distant buoy, only to suffer physical symptoms and be unable to swim or even tread water.
All swimmers and especially those with pre-existing heart conditions are advised to check weather forecasts before hitting the beach and to visit blue flag areas on patrol days when possible.
On an institutional level, the Federation notes that difficulties and confusion are caused by the lack of a uniform warning system across different municipalities, and calls for a nationwide campaign similar to those targeting road safety.
Although a serious problem in all coastal regions, Torrevieja and Cartagena stand out as the municipalities with the most risk of drowning.