Be Water Aware to reduce accidental drownings

After it was revealed that in 2022, 266 lives were lost to accidental drowning in the UK, we're calling for people to stay safe in and around water.

The warning comes as part of The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) Be Water Aware campaign which runs from 22-28 April. Its aim is to raise awareness about the risk of accidental drowning and providing safety advice ahead of the warmer months.

Statistics reveal from the Water Incident Database show that 40% of people who accidentally drowned had no intention of entering the water. Slips trips and falls were often the cause of these accidents.

Many people also underestimate the dangers of jumping into water or taking a dip to cool off especially those with limited experience of outdoor swimming. Unseen hazards and cold water shock can mean even strong swimmers get into trouble.

“Males account for 87% of these accidental fatalities, 60% of which are in inland waters such as rivers, reservoirs and lakes.”

Jacq Hardwick, Water Safety Lead at AF&RS

Simple tips to help stay safe include:

  • Stick to designated pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge
  • Don’t enter the water after drinking alcohol
  • Walk a safe route home after drinking, with friends and away from water
  • Cold water shock can kill, walking into the water rather than jumping in can help reduce the risk.

Jacq added: “As the statistics show, many people don’t expect their time near water to turn into an emergency, so knowing what to do if you or someone else is in trouble in the water is lifesaving advice.”

Never put yourself at risk by entering the water in an attempt to help a person or an animal in trouble. If someone is in trouble in the water, the best way to help is by staying calm, staying on land, and remember Call, Tell, Throw:

  • Call 999 for the emergency services
  • Tell the struggling person to float to live, on their back in a starfish shape.
  • Throw them something that floats.
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