River safety group issues Christmas party warning

With the Christmas party season in full swing, the Bath and North East Somerset River Safety Group is issuing festive safety advice to revellers in the area.

The warning comes as many people will be out celebrating with family, friends and colleagues and follows a number of tragic deaths in the River Avon, often involving people who have been out socialising.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “As a member of the River Safety Group, the Council is keen to emphasise that although the River Avon is a beautiful part of the city, people are reminded of the importance of staying safe around the water, particularly at night time.

“The B&NES River Safety Group is continually reviewing the measures in place to improve river safety. At this time of year when people are out enjoying themselves, particularly at night time, we would remind them to think about their journey home. Take a licenced taxi if you have been drinking and if you are walking stay with your friends.”

Station Manager Rob Seaman, Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s lead officer for water rescue added: “There have been a number of tragedies where people enjoying nights out have lost their lives in the waterways in Bath so we are keen to ensure everyone can enjoy a happy and safe Christmas.

“This time of year there is a real buzz in the evenings as people celebrate the festive season. Where people are out drinking near the water we’re just asking that they give some extra thought to the safety of themselves and friends.

“The last place you would want to end up at this time of year is in the river as the water is particularly cold. The low temperatures mean that even extremely strong swimmers will quickly find themselves in real difficulty. Unfortunately what seems like a bit of fun or an accident can have fatal consequences.

“The best advice is to give some thought to how you will get home at the end of the night. If your walk takes you near water and you’ve had a couple of drinks it might be worth thinking about an alternative route or getting a taxi.

Rather than walking home alone, stay in groups and look out for your friends to make sure you all get home safely at the end of your night.”

The River Safety Group is a multi-agency group made up of representatives from Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Avon Fire & Rescue Service, Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Environment Agency and the Canal and Rivers Trust.  It is also supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

Safety advice

  • Rivers, canals and open water can present a real danger if you’ve had a drink. The water can be extremely cold this time of year, and added to the effects of alcohol, can dramatically affect the reactions of even the strongest swimmer.
  • Plan a route home at the start of the night. If your walk home takes you past water could you take an alternative route or get a taxi?
  • To help you stay more aware, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

What to do if somebody is in trouble:

You can find more information about the river rescue cabinets here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM9Hq82PD7w

  • Think, do not put yourself in danger. Do not enter the water or jump in
  • Shout for help, ring 999 and request the Fire and Rescue Service
  • Reach, if it’s safe to do so, try and reach the person with a stick or a pole or any other object that will keep you  out of danger.  Crouch or lie down to avoid being pulled into the water
  • Throw designated rescue equipment or rope if available to pull the person to the bank.  Otherwise throw in something that will float this will help keep the person afloat until assistance arrives.
  • Bath is the first place in the UK to install secure river rescue cabinets. The specially designed cabinets ensure that the rescue equipment cannot be damaged or stolen and will be there in an emergency. Avon Fire and Rescue will be immediately alerted of any incidents, so that they can send help.