EAST Sussex has the highest number of accidental drownings in the UK.

A total of 58 people died in the area’s waters last year.

Though this figure was the highest total seen in any part of the UK, it still represented a drop of eight from the year before, with 290 fatalities confirmed in the last five years.

Now, with lockdown measures being eased, a drowning prevention society is fearful that there will be a spike as swimmers swarm back to beaches and rivers.

The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) said it had seen a “recent increase in public euphoria and risk-taking behaviour” from frustrated Brits making the most of eased lockdown rules.

On the final weekend of last month, HM Coastguard responded to 447 incidents with the Sunday being the busiest day of the year so far.

Despite the nation still being under lockdown, there was a 168 per cent increase in incidents from the year before on this day.

HM Coastguard duty commander Matt Leat said: “Very high numbers of people took to the beaches, coast and sea this weekend which led to a huge increase in the number of incidents.

“Boating, swimming and other sea-based activities are now allowed again across the UK, as is spending time on the beach. However, now more than ever, people need to respect the sea and the coast to ensure the safety of themselves and their families.

“Regardless of how well you know the coast, or how experienced you are in your chosen sport, the sea can still catch you out.”

The RLSS reinforced this message.

Chief executive Robert Gofton said: “We are extremely concerned that this summer will see people rushing to jump into the water without proceeding with caution and understanding the potential life-threatening implications.

“Although amazing work has been done to reduce the number of accidental drownings across the UK and Ireland, this year has been unprecedented in so many ways. We have witnessed a recent increase in public euphoria and risk-taking behaviour.

“East Sussex has a particularly high rate of drowning incidences and we urge as many people as possible to access our resources to learn how to stay safe.

“RLSS UK believes that the majority of drowning incidents can be prevented. By learning to recognise to the potential dangers and becoming confident in how to respond to an emergency, you could save a life.”

Resources are available on the charity’s website to teach people how to stay safe around water.