11th May: National Day for the Prevention of sea-related accidents & drownings

On May 11, 2019 a special event took place at the Ministry of Maritime and Island Policy, in the presence of the political and military leaders, regarding the establishment of the National Day for the Prevention of sea-related accidents & drownings.

It is worth stating that May 11th was proclaimed as a National Day for the Prevention of sea-related accidents & drownings by Law 4597/2010.
Mr. Fotis Kouvelis declared that: 
"In a country like Greece, with 13,676 kilometers of coastline, people need to know how to behave when in they are in the water, to be aware of swimming and traffic training when they are on board a boat.

Otherwise, we will have a number of incidents, injuries and deaths. The aim is to prevent any deaths in the sea, where it is estimated that almost 300 deaths occur each year.

For this reason, the Ministry has strengthened the institutional framework for water safety and it performs actions to inform and raise awareness of citizens and especially pupils, so that young people can learn how to behave properly in the water. In an effort to develop the right swimming behavior and sea traffic, we defined the Lifeguard Education Schools and the issue of lifeguard license through the Presidential Decree 31/2018. After this decision, we plan to strenthen the process of license, training, equipment and supplies' requirements as well as the obligatory recruitement of a lifeguard at a beach.''

Also, the Article No 20 of the General Ports Regulation concerning high-speed boats and other maritime recreational facilities has been modernized. The changes refer to the safety requirements, operating conditions, technical specifications for towing vessels, the conditions and qualifications required for the license of recreational vehicles, the conditions of their use of prohibition and penalties in case of breaking the rule.

The Maritime Police Directorate works closely with Safe Water Sports, mainly on issues related to informing citizens about safety in the sea and in water sports. This cooperation is summarized in the following actions:

-The creation of a brochure entitled "10 Safety Rules for Water Sports", which was distributed to the passengers who travelled with ferry boats last year.

-The creation of an electronic application that is accessible to the relevant Coast Guard departments in order to computerize the Coast Guard service needs and coordinate police work, in particular those related to recreational activities. This application is continuously enriched with new thematic subjects for the purpose of standardizing, digitizing and improving the controls of the country's Port Authorities.

We believe that sea-based education should start at a very young age. Thus, Port Authority, through the Port Police Department, took the initiative and developed a relevant educational program entitled "CHECK-LEARN-CARE" specifically designed for first grade elementary-school students.

Since 2016, the program which is approved by the Ministry of Education has been upgraded, improved and expanded to target students in primary schools and high-schools. The presentations are interactive including virtual scenarios at beaches and seas. In this way, students  are informed regarding the safety measures in the sea and in water sports.

Duruing the event, Mr. Kouvelis thanked all the students of the 5th Elementary School of Piraeus and their teachers, as well as the members of the Port Authority for their efforts to promote this particular educational program.

The President of Safe Water Sports, Mr. P. Paschalakis, presented the Integrated Information System that the Organization donated to the Port Authoriy, the application for mobile devices, as well as the educational program for safety in the water, in the sea and in water sports. As Mr. Paschalakis stated, "The flawless and close cooperation of the non-profit organization with the Ministry of Shipping and the Coast Guard has shown that the public sector and non-profit organizations can successfully work together. "

"The collaboration between the Ministry of Maritime and Safe Water Sports to establish the National Day for the Prevention of Sea-Based Accidents and Drownings, is a great opportunity for us to highlight our country's leading role in water and water safety on an international level. Our example can be followed by other countries as well, so that this day can become a worldwide effort, that may contribute significantly to raise awareness and educate children."