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18 April 2018

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service supporting ‘Be Water Aware’ campaign

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC's) drowning prevention and water safety campaign 'Be Water Aware' which runs from 23 - 29 April.

MEDIA INVITE: Thursday 26 April, 10.30am, River Eden (next to the Sands Centre, Carlisle). CFRS team will be doing a water rescue demonstration and a senior firefighter will be available for interviews about water safety and drowning prevention.

Drowning in the UK is one of the leading causes of accidental death. Each year more than 300 people drown after tripping, falling or just by underestimating the risks associated with being near water. Many more people are left with life changing injuries in water related incidents.

NFCC's Water Safety Lead, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said:

“Most people would be shocked to hear that those people drowning just happen to be near water such as runners and walkers. 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 deaths."

Safety advice

  • If you are going for a walk or run near water stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s 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 and 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

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

  • 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.

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service attended 130 water related incidents in 2017-18.

The fire 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.

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC's) drowning prevention and water safety campaign 'Be Water Aware' which runs from 23 - 29 April.