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674 Reality TV – a way to prevent drownings?
  1. Riitta Vienola1,
  2. Anne Hiltunen2
  1. 1Arcada, University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  2. 2Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation


Background In Finland there are 188 000 lakes, 42 000 km of coastline and 3000 beaches (200 supervised). Approximately 150 people drown in Finland every year. This is relatively more than e.g. in other Nordic countries. How to educate people in order to prevent drownings? The idea to create a reality TV show, on the subject of lifesaving, came from the media company AitoMedia. The Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation (FSL) decided to co-operate with the production.

Objective Martina and the Lifeguards game show features ten female celebrities learning lifesaving skills in Thailand. The main instructor Anne Hiltunen represents FSL. The participants are eliminated one by one until there is just one competitor left. She is then declared the winner and a professional lifeguard. The show has its own website with information on water safety. The first season was broadcast in 2014 and the second season in 2015.

Results 32% of the Finns (1 537 000, 10 years and older) watched season 1 for at least 3 minutes. The first episode had 232 000 viewers (average 169 000 spectators per episode). The total views online were 994 944 (whole episodes 583 596, video clips 411 348). Most of the viewers were female. The program was mentioned 184 times in 26 different media during season 1 (86% of the articles were neutral, 8% positive, 6% negative). There were no changes in the FSLs’ lifeguard education course statistics. After the project, the media has been more active in promoting water safety articles (payback time).

Conclusions Compared to the FSL’s annual water safety tour Wise on the Water in 2014 (24 places, 29 media) the media coverage of the TV show was very good. The awareness of lifeguard education and water safety issues was increased. New openings are needed for promoting water safety attitudes. Entertainment seems to be a way to reach especially young people. Measurement tools need to be improved for evaluating the effectiveness of the interventions.

  • Drowning prevention
  • Lifesaving
  • All-Star Lifeguards
  • Reality television programs

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