AF&RS support first United Nations World Drowning Prevention Day

The United Nations has declared 25 July as World Drowning Prevention Day, with the aim of increasing water safety awareness and highlighting the issue.

Sadly, an estimated 235,600 people across the world drown every year, and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years. 
Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) play an important role in water safety, and will be using the day to raise awareness of the hidden dangers beneath the waters surface in a bid to prevent water related incidents.

Steve McGreavy, Children and Young Persons Risk Reduction Watch Manager at AF&RS, said: “As a Service we provide water safety rescue services to our communities, we have boats, rafts, underwater cameras and much more equipment available to ensure we are prepared to rescue those who come into difficulty in the water.

“We’re working hard to provide safety advice to local residents, families and visitors to reduce the number of water related incidents we see in our area. Sadly we continue to see many incidents that could have been avoided if the advice was followed correctly.

“We are under no illusions; we know people enjoy swimming in beautiful wild water spots in our area. This summer, we’re urging swimmers and those relaxing around the water to read our water safety advice before visiting the area, and remind themselves what to do in an emergency to ensure we can respond as quickly as possible.

Anyone can drown, but no one should.


Here’s our safety advice for staying safe while relaxing in or around the water this summer:

• 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.
• Hidden currents can make it difficult to swim back to shore, even for the strongest swimmers.
• We recommend that you never swim alone. If you do decide to go by yourself, always tell somebody where you’re going.
• Water conditions can change quickly, weather can cause the ground to become unstable or increase water currents, which can be fatal.
• From rocks to rubbish, there are many dangerous materials that may be lurking beneath the water. When swimming, it can be hard to see what lies beneath.
• Remote locations may seem like the perfect spot for a swim, but these locations can be hard for Emergency Services to find in an emergency, we’d encourage you to download #What3Words to help us find you.
• Don’t drink and drown. If you fall into water after drinking, your chances of being able to get out of the water are decreased due to alcohol’s impairment of simple movements.
• If someone gets into trouble, immediately call 999. If you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for the fire service and ambulance.
• Never enter the water to try and save someone, always wait for emergency services.

The RNLI’s #FloatToLive campaign offers clear advice on what to do in the event of falling in deep water:
• Everyone who falls unexpectedly into cold water instinctively reacts through panic and tries to swim hard to reach safety. However, your best chance of staying safe is to fight this instinct and #FloatToLive.
• Lie back and keep your airways clear, push your stomach up and extend your limbs moving hands and feet to help you float.
• Try to control your breathing, once under control, call for help and if possible try making your way towards safety.