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• In 2017, drownings in Spain were responsible for over 500 deaths
• Drowning mainly affects people over 60 years old

“Raising awareness and spreading knowledge is essential for making progress in the fields of accident prevention and, of course, in the prevention of drownings and other water-related incidents”. It was with these words that HRH the Infanta Elena, Director of Projects for Fundación MAPFRE, opened the 2nd International Congress on Safety, Emergencies and Life-Saving, that started today in A Coruña, aimed at getting experts from all over the world to present their papers and research relevant to the current level of drownings and how to prevent them.

The Director of Projects for Fundación MAPFRE also expressed her gratitude to the Government of Galicia and to the Oleiros City Council, as well as the University of A Coruña, “for the warm welcome and participation in this congress”, in which more than 20 international speakers gathered this weeked on the Galician coast. She also addressed all the national and international emergency organizations that have supported this initiative from the very beginning, as well as the University of A Coruña, the main organizer of the congress along with Fundación MAPFRE, stating that “this congess is a clear example of the close collaboration between public authorities, private initiative and civil society”.

During the conference, various experts agreed on the need for Spain to set out the parameters for designing and implementing a National Plan for Aquatic Security, involving public and private entities and making an effective contribution towards regulating the monitoring, training and presence of lifeguards, thereby contributing to preventing the number of drownings that occur in Spain, which in 2017 rose by more than 20% compared to the previous year.

SMOKE-FREE BEACHES. During the opening of the congress, Jesús Vázquez, Health Minister in the Galician Government, referred to the environmental health and fitness project which has enabled this region to have smoke-free beaches. On this subject, he recognized that “the network of smoke-free beaches in Galicia needs time to become consolidated, in that changing society’s attitudes can be a slow process”. He also highlighted the “excellent” way in which the initiative had been welcomed by both the general public and many town councils, “which makes us very optimistic”, and he pointed out that many Spanish beaches had already expressed a specific interest in joining the project.

OVER 500 VICTIMS. Julio Domingo, Managing Director of Fundación MAPFRE, stressed the importance of training, “in order to have the very best life-saving services”, but he also highlighted that prevention needs to filter through to the general public “so that they are aware of its importance when it comes to avoiding a tragedy”.

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