How slips, trips and falls add to tragic drowning figures

Mon 23 Apr, 2018

Don't assume you're not at risk of drowning just because you don’t intend to go in the water. That's the key message at the launch of this year's national Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Week, which starts today (Monday 23 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 UK fire chiefs to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water after statistics show that nearly half of people who accidentally drown in the UK never intended to enter the water.

The latest figures show that in 2016, 315 people died after slipping, tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water.

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."

"Fire and rescue services have successfully reduced the number of fire deaths by focusing on prevention work and now we must apply the same principle to tackling drowning. Response is not enough - we must prevent drownings."

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.

Advice for runners and walkers

  • Make sure your run is suitable for your fitness level.
  • Consider joining a running group.
  • Be aware and take note of any warning signs or information.
  • When running next to water stay clear of the edges as they may be unsafe.
  • 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.
  • Don’t 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 run a route many times before that it is still safe.
  • Avoid running near water in the dark.

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 of even the water's edge.
  • If you fall in after drinking your chances of being able get out of the water are decreased as alcohol impairs even simple movements.
  • 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.