Deaths by drowning in Portugal “increase by 12.5% in first quarter of year”

27 people drowned between January and March 31

Portugal has recorded 27 deaths by drowning in the first quarter of the year – 12.5% up on the same period in 2022, according to data from the Portuguese Lifeguards Federation.

In numbers, this means that four more people drowned in the three month period this year than last – the vast majority of them being men.

Issuing the data today, the federation’s Drowning Observatory stressed that it was “of special concern” because 2022 was already a year with an increase in the numbers of people who drowned.

Says Lusa, the data shows that deaths tended to occur in the afternoons, in unguarded locations. Only three were witnessed and saw rescues attempted.

January was the deadliest month, with 10 deaths, followed by February, with nine, and March, with eight.

The district of Leiria was the one where there were the highest number of  deaths (5), followed by the Algarve (4), Lisbon and Setúbal (3 each), as well as Porto and Santarém (2 each).

Most of the victims died in the sea (9), followed by rivers (8). Two deaths were registered in a well, another two in what the observatory describes as a ‘safe haven’ and two more in private swimming pools), as well as one in a dam, another in a tank, another in a marina and one in a ditch.

Regarding ages, the majority (70.4%) were over 45 years old.

As Lusa explains, the Portuguese Lifeguards Federation is perennially pushing for ‘more to be done’, and the months where lifeguards are employed to be extended.

In May this year, municipalities called on the government to bring in the Navy for beach surveillance and rescues, due to the lack of lifeguards before the beach season begins.

They also called for the a professional career in lifeguarding, with a pay scale that makes this sector attractive.

To date nothing much has moved forwards. The National Maritime Authority, for example, has stressed that the country has 4,331 people available to be lifeguards this year, but needs between 5,200 and 5,000 – “a number that can still be reached this year, as soon as the technical aptitude exams are held”, adds Lusa.

This year Portugal has 589 ‘supervised beaches’ – meaning beaches watched by lifeguards. This is four more than it had last year.

Source material: LUSA