Being near water is perceived as a low risk activity and water related activities as high risk. Statistics demonstrate this is not the case and nearly 50% of people who drown had no intention of entering the water.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service are asking people to be ‘Be Water Aware’ Don't assume you're not at risk of drowning because you don’t intend to go in the water
Drowning in the UK is amongst the leading causes of accidental death In 2017 255 people accidentally drowned - 50% of these people were taking part in everyday activities near water such as walking, running, cycling and fishing. We are asking people expect the unexpected and be aware of the everyday risks of being near water People can make changes to their behaviour which may reduce their risk of drowning Knowing how to respond quickly, safely and appropriately can help save lives Drowning prevention and raising awareness is better than response and rescue or recovery.
We are asking people to be ‘Be Water Aware’ Don't assume you're not at risk of drowning because you don’t intend to go in the water
Who is at risk?
Runners and Walkers - This group has the highest incidence of accidental drowning year on year in the UK. In 2017 this group accounted for about 42% of people who accidentally drowned (106 people).
People on a night out - 100 people drowned in 2017 with alcohol and/or drugs in their system. These fatalities do fall under the runners and walkers category. Focus on young adults, especially students.
Away From Home - Anecdotally NFCC are aware that the risks of drowning are higher when people are less familiar with the area. Spain also has a high incidence of tourists drowning so we are keen to encourage people to take water safe information and behaviour with them wherever they are.
Safety advice for students and young Adults
- Don’t let a night out end in tragedy - take a safe route home away from water.
- Avoid walking near water even if the path is lit - in the dark you may not see trip hazards or even the waters edge.
- Stay with your group and don’t wander off if you become separated.
- Keep an eye on friends who are worse for wear and make sure that you help them home.
- Make sure that you store a Taxi number in your phone and some emergency money at home so that you can pay. If the money is at home you can’t loose it or spend it.
What to do if someone falls into deep water
- Call 999 or 112 - straightaway. If you don't have a phone shout for help - you may have to look for help but do not enter the water.
- If you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for fire service and ambulance.
- The emergency services will need to know where you are. Accurate information can save precious minutes. If you have a smart phone and have location services or map tool enabled, this can help. If not look around for any landmarks or signs – for example bridges will often have numbers on them which can identify their location.
- Don’t hang up – stay on the line but try and continue to try to help the person if appropriate.
- Encourage them to try and float on their back - if there is rescue equipment nearby throw it to them.
- When you have made the call shout for help from anyone who might be close by.
Human nature says you are likely to want to attempt to help while rescue services are on their way. Never ever enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock which will leave you unable to help even if you are a strong swimmer.
What to do if you fall in the water - Float to live RNLI
Everyone who falls unexpectedly into cold water wants to follow the same instinct, to swim hard and to fight the cold water. But when people fight it, chances are, they lose.
Fight the instinct to panic or swim.
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 take and control the effects of cold water shock such as the gasping reflex. Once your breathing is controlled call for help and if possible try making your way towards safety
If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, do as little as possible, and float.
More information here