Campaign highlights activities that can lead to drowning

Mon 29 Apr, 2019

Water safety training at Gayhurst

Don't assume you’re safe from the risk of drowning just because you’re not planning to go into the water. That's the key message for this year's national Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Week, which starts today (Monday 29 April).

Fire and rescue services across the UK, including Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, which has Water Rescue Units based at Beaconsfield Fire Station and Newport Pagnell Fire Station, have joined a call by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water. Firefighters from Newport Pagnell are pictured above during a training exercise with colleague from Broughton Fire Station at Gayhurst last week.

Statistics show that half of people who accidentally drown in the UK never intended to enter the water. It was the fact that they were running, walking, fishing or cycling near water that put them at risk of drowning.

In 2017, 255 people died after slipping, tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water. In addition, 75 UK nationals, mainly tourists, drowned while abroad.

The campaign is also targeting people who go in or near the water when they have alcohol in their systems - particularly males in the 15 to 29 age group.

Dawn Whittaker from the National Fire Chiefs’ Council said: "Most people would be shocked to hear that those people drowning just happen to be near water such as runners and walkers. They are unaware of the risks and are totally unprepared for the scenario of ending up in the water. 

"By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them we hope to reduce the number of these needless deaths."

Advice for runners and walkers

- Make sure your walk or run is suitable for your fitness level.

- Consider joining a running or walking group.

- Be aware and take note of any warning signs or information.

- Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength. Know how to use it and who to call in an emergency.

- Look out for slip hazards, and pay attention to your footing.

- Stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge.

- Don’t walk or run next to water if levels are high.

- Make sure you know exactly where you are. Consider something like an OS Locate app for a smartphone, or a map.

- Don’t assume just because you have used a route many times before that it is still safe.

- Avoid walking or running near water in the dark.

- Wear appropriate footwear and clothing - even if you are just going to stretch your legs 

Advice if you have been drinking alcohol

- Stay with your group and don't wander off if you become separated.

- Keep an eye on any friends who are worse for wear and make sure you help them home.

- Avoid walking near water even if the path is lit. You may not realise how unsteady on your feet you are.

- In the dark you may not see trip hazards or even the water's edge.

- Alcohol impairs even simple movements, so if you fall in after drinking your chances of being able get out of the water are decreased

- Make sure you store a taxi number in your phone and some emergency money at home so you can pay. If the money is at home you can't lose it or accidentally spend it.

- Plan how you are getting home before you start your night out

Click here for advice when you are on the beach or in a pool.