Portugal recorded 27 drowning deaths in the first quarter, 12.5% more than in 2022.

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In 70.4% of drowning deaths, the victims were aged over 45. To prevent this type of situation, Portugal has 589 beaches supervised by lifeguards, four more than in 2022, during the bathing season.

According to figures from the federation’s Drowning Observatory published in a press release, the 27 deaths (22 men, four women and one whose sex was not disclosed) already exceed the 24 deaths recorded last year between January 1 and March 31.

The organization stresses that the increase in drowning deaths “is particularly worrying, as 2022 was a year marked by a particular increase (…) in Portugal”.

According to the data, most drownings took place in the afternoon (48.1%), all in unsupervised areas, and only three were observed and the subject of rescue attempts.

January was the deadliest month, with 10 deaths, followed by February with 9 and March with 8.

Leiria was the district with the highest number of deaths, with five, followed by Faro (four), Lisbon and Setúbal (three each), and Porto and Santarém (two each).

Among the locations with the highest number of drownings, the sea claimed the most victims, with nine, followed by the river with eight. Six deaths were also recorded in a well (two), in a harbor (two) and in a domestic pool (two), in addition to one death in a dam, another in a pond, another in a marina and another in a ditch.

In terms of age, the majority (70.4%) were over 45.

The Drowning Observatory is a system created by the Portuguese Federation of Rescue Swimmers to record drowning deaths in Portugal.

On May 22, the municipalities proposed to the government that the navy should participate in the surveillance and rescue of bathers during this bathing season, due to the shortage of lifeguards, as well as the creation of a professional career with a salary scale to make the sector attractive.

According to the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP), these municipalities have assumed competencies in the field of maritime, river and lake beaches, but “have been faced with constraints related to the hiring of lifeguards for the bathing season”, a problem that is not specific to this year, but has become more acute, requiring “exceptional measures”.

The National Maritime Authority, which is responsible for overseeing and monitoring compliance with the rules and regulations applicable to assistance to bathers, revealed that as of May 10, 582 new lifeguards had been certified, bringing the total number of people authorized to carry out this activity to 4,331.

The maritime authority pointed out that the normal number of lifeguards nationwide in summer is between 5,200 and 5,500, a number that could be reached again this year, once the planned technical aptitude examinations have taken place.

For this year’s bathing season, Portugal has 589 beaches supervised by lifeguards, four more than in 2022, according to the list of bathing waters.

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