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Drowning deaths reach 10-year high this summer

The summer of 2010 was not only the last time drowning figures were as high but also when Finland last experienced a summer as hot.

A total of 30 people drowned in June alone this year, which equates to one person per day during the month. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle

More than 65 people drowned in June and July this summer, according to the latest data gathered by the Finnish Swimming Education and Lifesaving Federation (FSL). This is the highest summer figure in eleven years.

Some 79 people lost their lives due to drowning in June and July 2010.

This year's July figures were a gloomy continuation of June's numbers. A total of 30 people drowned in June, the highest reading since June 1999.

The FSL has been recording the drownings of people in Finland since 1999 with the data published once a month. Official figures on drownings can also be found in Statistics Finland's causes of death statistics.

A clear connection between heatwave and drownings

This summer has been exceptionally warm in much of the country. The number of days when the mercury passed the 25 degree mark in July was well above the month's average.

The same was observed in connection to the equally gloomy drowning figures recorded in the beginning of the last decade. The last time Finland experienced a July as warm in southern and eastern parts of the country was in 2010.

"There is a clear connection between heat and drowning. That's when people want to go in or near the water, and the risks of drowning increase," FSL's Executive Director Kristiina Heinonen told Yle in July.

According to FSL, some 100 to 150 people drown in accidents every year in Finland. Around a third of drownings occur while swimming, one third are water traffic accidents and another third are caused when people accidentally fall into water, Heinonen added.

This year saw an increase in drownings of swimmers.