Published On: Sun, Feb 4th, 2024
World | 3,753 views

Amsterdam looking to the UK for solution to stop men drowning after a ‘wild wee’ | World | News


One of Europe’s art cities most beloved by British tourists is looking at the UK and Ireland to slash the number of accidental deaths linked to its canals.

An average of 18 people drown every year in one of Amsterdam’s 165 canals. Many of these victims are young men believed to have fallen to their deaths while seemingly taking a “wild wee”.

The Dutch city is undertaking a major renovation, which includes funding for the addition of extra ladders and grab ropes along its canal walls to make it easier for people who fall into the water to quickly find a way out. 

However, the canals still present a massive hazard to distracted people, particularly when they are under the influence of alcohol.

Juliet Broersen, head of the local Volt party, has asked to look into prevention techniques and safety campaigns launched across the British Isles to make local waterways safer. 

As reported by the Times, she said: “The hard reality of an accident in the water is that after someone disappears, it can take days before they are found. The body may no longer be recognisable.

“Our party also heard the story of a woman who saw a homeless man fall in the water and tried to help him. It didn’t work and she saw the man go under. It is hugely traumatic.”

Police spokeswoman Marijke Stor noted that, while people fall in the waterways under different circumstances, “we see that it often goes wrong when men are peeing in a canal”.

She added: “Our urgent warning is: don’t do it. And the same goes for swimming in a canal.” 

Adding to the theory that many of the victims were relieving themselves before falling into the water, forensic physician Guido Reijnen said that around 10 percent of the drowned men were found with their flies open.

Amsterdam is far from being the first city to find itself in need to tackle a similar issue. Galway, in Ireland, installed heat-sensitive cameras able to locate warm bodies in cold waters that have helped rescue people. 

An appeal issued by the RNLI and Water Safety Ireland ahead of St Patrick’s Day in 2023 also reminded Irish people of the links between alcohol and drowning incidents. 

Roger Sweeney, deputy CEO at Water Safety Ireland, said at the time: “Alcohol is a contributory factor in over 30 percent of drowning incidents and an individual’s judgement and reaction times can be significantly impaired.”

In the UK, the Royal Life Saving Society launched a campaign called “Don’t Drink and Drown” aimed at raising awareness of the risks linked between being drunk and walking home near waterways.

Noting that an average of 73 people in the UK lose their lives every year through a substance-related drowning, the RLSS urges individuals to be responsible for drunk friends and not find routes home that don’t involve walking close to the water. 



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