AF&RS raise awareness of #HiddenDangers beneath the water

With staycations on the horizon this summer, your family might be tempted to go for a swim or relax at some of the beautiful locations near weirs, rivers, lakes and ponds as the weather gets warmer.

Before you take the plunge, Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) urge you to be aware of the hidden dangers beneath the water’s surface.
In 2019, sadly 223 people died in the UK due to accidental drowning and the majority of those were at areas of wild water, including weirs, rivers, lakes and ponds.

To reduce this and help keep our communities safe, we’re urging residents and visitors to take the time to understand the hidden dangers beneath the water, what to do if they find themselves in trouble and how to contact the emergency services.

Meghann Elvin, Children and Young Person’s Risk Reduction Manager at AF&RS, said:  “This summer we want to remind those swimming, relaxing, exercising or spending time near the water to take precautions: you never know what hidden dangers may be lurking beneath the surface.”

What are the hidden dangers?

Cold water shock – Even in the height of summer, the waters in England remain cold enough to induce cold water shock, the body’s involuntary response to being suddenly immersed into cold water. It can cause you to gasp for breath, inhale water and cause panic. Remember to extend your arms and legs to #FloatToLive until the effect of cold water shock passes.

Underwater hazards – From rocks to rubbish, there are many dangerous materials that may be lurking beneath the water. When jumping into or swimming in the water, it can be hard to see what lies beneath the surface, take care and be aware of your surroundings when swimming in wild water.

Changing conditions – Water conditions can change quickly, weather can cause the ground to become unstable or increase water currents, which can be fatal. Even if it was safe last time, conditions change and water can become increasingly dangerous very quickly.

Isolated areas – Remote locations may seem like the perfect spot for a swim, but these locations can be hard for Services to find in an emergency. Remember to tell someone where you are going and download the app, What3Words, to help emergency services find out exactly where you are.

Meghann added: “By raising awareness of the hidden dangers and encouraging local people to take precautions and know what to do in an emergency, we hope to reduce water related incidents in our area and ultimately, keep people safer without ruining their fun this summer.”

Remember, if you’re spending time near water, take care around the water’s edge and supervise children at all times.

It’s vital you call 999 immediately if you see someone in trouble in the water, and not put yourself at risk trying to save them. We are here to help.