Map shows Latvia’s grim drowning figures

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Every year, approximately between 100 and 150 bodies are pulled from the water in Lavia after drowning, according to data from the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD). 

With the association ‘Swim safely’ (Peldēt droši), the service has produced a “blackspot” map showing the locations with drownings over the past three years in Latvia.

The map is covered rather homogeneously across the country.

“There is a myth in society that most people drown in the sea. It is not true if we look at the map. VUGD data show that there are more drownings where there are more inhabitants.

“Almost everyone lives in proximity of water, natural water bodies are everywhere. For example, courtyard ponds are not always meant for swimming but anyone can accidentally fall in, especially children,” said Peldēt droši founder Zane Gemze.

The map shows the 316 drowning cases between 2020 and 2022. Statistics show that on average, a dead person is removed from the water every three days: 122 people in 2020, 100 in 2021, and 94 in 2022.

This year the service has already removed 42 dead bodies from the water. 

Over the three years 63% of the cases have happened rurally, 26% in large (republic status) cities, and 11% in other towns.

“One can drown within a minute, but not even the fastest rescuers can arrive that quickly. There will be nothing to save, and the victim will supplement the statistics. Our experience shows that most accidents would not happen if safety rules were observed – no swimming under the influence of alcohol, no swimming alone, no recklessness, no jumping in unknown water bodies, using safety vests and look out for each other, especially with children,” said VUGD deputy chief Jānis Grīnbergs.

As repeatedly reported by LSM over the years, Latvia has a serious problem with a huge number of drownings and other water tragedies every year. Latvia consistently tops European league tables for drownings per capita with dozens of deaths both in summer and in winter when reckless fishermen regularly fall through the ice.