At least 59 people have died in Finland so far this year, according to the Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation (FSL). Coronavirus and recent warm weather have both contributed to people spending more time outdoors, including on the water.
The two most recent drownings occurred on Friday. Rescue workers were unable to resuscitate a young man they pulled out of the water on Helsinki’s Hietaniemi beach. On the same day another person drowned in Tampere’s Näsijärvi Lake.
Water accidents claimed eight lives over Midsummer. FSL’s secretary general, Kristiina Heinonen, said it was unusual that some of the holiday weekend drownings happened in close proximity of a beach.
Forty people had already drowned by May this year, marking an unusually high death toll just five months into the year. According to Heinonen, the relatively large number of ice drownings this year--19--have contributed to the high tally.
False sense of safety
Familiarity is a major drowning risk factor, according to Heinonen, as it provides a false sense of security.
"Oftentimes people will be out in small boats in familiar waters, so when they fall in they’re not wearing a life vest."
She also pointed out that drowning is a leading cause of accidental deaths among children.
"Never go swimming alone, remember to always swim along the shore and don’t forget your life vest. And if you’re drinking, it’s best to stay out of the water," Heinonen added.