In the months of July and August, no fewer than 1,550 people, mainly children, were lost by the sea. This is reported by the Intermunicipal Coastal Rescue Service of West Flanders (IKWV). The figure is a lot higher than in other years, most likely because of the good weather.
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The tropical summer attracted a lot of people to the coast. This also resulted in more lost children. In July, 879 people were briefly lost and in August there were 671 people. The number is considerably higher than last year. At that time, only 860 lost children were recorded. In 2020 there were 1,079, in 2019 the counter ended at 1,021 and in 2018 there were still 1,708.
“There is a very clear link between the good weather and the high numbers. That is of course logical: the more crowds on the beach, the easier it becomes to lose sight of each other,” says Bert Gunst, chairman of IKWV. “We want to underline the importance of the rescuers in the search for a lost child. After all, you should not lose sight of the fact that the priority of our rescuers lies with the many swimmers and water sports enthusiasts. Every time their attention is diverted to yet another lost person, it is potentially a danger to someone else,” Gunst concludes.
IKWV therefore argues for even more prevention. “This is to make it clear to parents or supervisors of children that they are primarily responsible for their offspring,” it sounds. For example, free stray wristbands will be provided and extra efforts will be made to distribute the wristbands. Extra communication to day trippers who travel to our coast by public transport also remains important.