Black summer for drownings in Spain: eight dead in 24 hours

by Lorraine Williamson
summer drownings

MADRID – The month of July is proving to be fatal for beach, pool and river swimmers. More than 40 people have already died this month from drowning in Spain. 

There were up to 57 drownings in June, making it the second deadliest June since 2015. In the past 24 hours alone, 8 people, including three minors, have died from drowning. 

On Wednesday morning, an 8-year-old boy died after being found unconscious in a municipal swimming pool in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Barcelona, on Tuesday. The boy, who participated in a summer camp, was transferred to a hospital where unfortunately, nothing could be done for him. 

Shortly afterwards, a 3-year-old baby died at a medical centre after a failed rescue attempt by the father. The father died on the spot. 

On Tuesday, the focus was on the city of Taverbes de la Valldigna in Valencia. Three people died while swimming, despite a red flag waving on the beach and no lifeguards present. The three swimmers were part of a group with a fourth woman, who was not in the water when she saw her companions appear to be having trouble getting out of the water. 

A 2-year-old girl also died in a private swimming pool in Tres Cales in l’Ametlla de Mar, Tarragona. She was on vacation with her German-Russian family. In a moment of inattention, the girl drowned and it was her sister who raised the alarm when she saw that she was lying at the bottom of the pool. 

In addition, a young man between the ages of 25 and 30 died on Tuesday afternoon on the beach of Miracle in Tarragona. The youth “had trouble getting out of the water”. Firefighters were able to pull him out of the water when he was 50 metres from shore. But, unfortunately, the resuscitation attempts of the SEM units were of no avail. 

Also see: Tragic weekend in Spanish waters with at least ten dead 

Tips to avoid accidents 

The Spanish Ministry of Health warns the population every year to observe measures to prevent accidents involving water. Children in particular are often the victims in a country with a coastline of thousands of kilometres and where almost every building has a swimming pool. 

Be especially careful with aids that are used with children who cannot swim, such as swimming rings or air mattresses. These often offer a false sense of security and quickly leak. Moreover, it is better to use life jackets. 

Most drownings occur within 5 minutes in family circles and often in private swimming pools. In the case of babies, accidents with inflatable pools are common. A baby or toddler can drown in water that is only a few centimetres deep. 


The advice from the ministry varies from very obvious matters to tips on resuscitation. It is important that older children who can swim always warn you before they go swimming. Small children who play in the water or near the water should wear a life jacket instead of floaties. Always keep an eye on children and always stay at an arm’s length in the pool with the smallest ones. 

Other tips 

  • Never give responsibility for smaller children to larger children who can swim 
  • Take into account the times when children have just eaten 
  • Never let children swim alone, even if they are wearing a life jacket 
  • Small children who cannot swim must wear a life jacket or wings or a swimming belt 
  • Do not allow children to play or run on the edge of a swimming pool 
  • Don’t get distracted by your phone or reading a book while the kids are in the water 
  • Also keep an eye on children who can already swim. Most accidents happen to children between the ages of 5 and 7. Parents assume they can swim and pay less attention. The children themselves can be overconfident and start experimenting with diving, somersaults, and jumping and an accident with a hard pool edge soon can happen 
  • Be careful with the drainage points in the pool, as children may be sucked in here 
  • Always check the depth of the water before diving in 
  • Also, point this out to children. After you have eaten, wait two hours before swimming 
  • Be careful with alcohol in combination with a refreshing dip in adolescents 
  • Always let children swim in the sea close to the beach where they can still stand. 

The sea 

If you get into a strong current in the sea, always swim parallel to the shore to get out. Be careful with air mattresses and other floating things because they can float very quickly far out to sea and if you get into trouble further out in the sea, try to get on your back only with your legs to swim back to the shore. 

Always keep an eye on the warning flags, also because they can change on the same day. With a green flag everything is safe, a yellow flag means danger so be careful and with a red flag swimming is even prohibited. 

If there are high waves, be careful with places where the line of the wave is broken or where two waves ‘meet’. Below this is often a strong undertow that can get a swimmer into trouble. 

Always give children a life jacket when you go on a boat trip, rent a bicycle boat or start other nautical activities. 

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