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Be Water Aware to prevent accidental drowning

Published
29.04.2019

Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service is supporting a national campaign urging people to be safe when they are around water.

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The week-long ‘Be Water Aware’ campaign, led by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), runs from 29 April - 5 May and aims to highlight the risk of accidental drowning.

Half of the accidental drownings in 2017 happened when people didn't even intend to go in the water. Activities such as running, walking, fishing and cycling near water can put you at risk of drowning.

In 2017:

  • 255 people accidentally drowned in the UK
  • Around 50 per cent of these people just happened to be near water
  • About 85 per cent of these fatalities were male
  • In addition 75 UK nationals, mainly tourists, drowned whilst abroad

Fire and Rescue Service advice:

  • If you are going for a walk or run near water stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the waters’ edge
  • Make sure conditions are safe, avoid walking or running near water in the dark, slippery or in bad weather
  • If you've had alcohol don't enter the water, avoid walking alone and avoid routes near water
  • Never enter the water to try to help a person or animal - always call 999 and use any water rescue equipment if it is available
  • If you are spending time near water - whether at home or abroad - make sure you are familiar with local safety information and children are fully supervised

Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Gloucestershire’s Fire and Rescue Service has successfully reduced the number of fire deaths by focusing on prevention work and now we must apply the same principle to tackling drowning. Response is not enough – we must prevent drownings.”

Wayne Bowcock, chief fire officer, said: "In Gloucestershire we have lots of beautiful waterside walks and in the city we have a variety of entertainment venues around the docks. However, this presents certain risks to the public which we are trying to raise awareness of with this campaign.

“If someone fell into the water, would you know what to do? Water Safety Week is about spreading the message to #BeWaterAware.”

NFCC's Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Lead, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said: "Most people would be shocked to hear that those people who drowned just happened to be taking part in everyday activities near water, like going for a run or walk. They are unaware of the risks and are totally unprepared for the scenario of ending up in the water. By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them we hope to reduce the number of these needless and preventable deaths."

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