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29 April 2019

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service issues water safety warning for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week 2019

The national drowning prevention campaign 'Be Water Aware' runs from Monday 29 April until Sunday 5 May 2019.

The focus of this year’s campaign is around safety messages for runners and walkers, young adult drinkers and people away from home.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service aims to raise awareness of the risk of accidental drowning and is committed to the National Drowning Prevention Strategy which aims to cut water-related deaths by 50% by 2026. 

Drowning is amongst the leading causes of accidental death in the UK. We want to make people safer by making them aware of the risks and dangers when around open water, what to do if they fall into water and how to help someone who is in trouble in water.

In 2017, 255 people accidentally drowned in the UK, of which approximately 100 people were found to have drugs or alcohol in their system.  In 50% of these accidental deaths people weren’t even taking part in water-based activities. Furthermore, of the 255 people who died from accidental drowning in 2017, 106 people were simply running or walking near water. 

There been a total of 69 rescues from water by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service since 2017. With 16 lakes, 4 reservoirs, many smaller tarns and over 100 miles of coastline, Cumbria has plenty of open water locations and preventing accidents is key to ensuring people are able to enjoy our beautiful landscape safely and with a strong understanding of the risks and dangers of water.  

Follow the #BeWaterAware hashtag on social media for safety advice and to support the campaign.

Please follow the below tips and advice from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service when working, socialising or at leisure near water.

People on a night out (100 people drowned in 2017 with alcohol and/or drugs in their system)

  • Stay clear of the edges. River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way - particularly after bad weather.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing - even if you are just going to stretch your legs. Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength, know how to use it and who to call in an emergency (999 Fire or Coastguard depending on where you are).
  • Look out for trip or slip hazards - pay attention to your footing. Stick to proper pathways. Don't walk or run next to water if levels are high.
  • Make sure you know exactly where you are - consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map. Don't assume just because you have walked or run a route many times before it is still safe.
  • Avoid walking or running near water in the dark.

Advice for the beach

  • Secluded beaches are not safe beaches - use a life guarded beach during patrolled hours.
  • It is important to remember to correctly supervise children all the time.
  • Dress your children in something nice and bright/ distinctive - it is easier to keep an eye on them.
  • Make sure your children know what to do or where to go if they get lost - agree a meeting point.
  • Check tides. These can changes at different times of the year - It might have been safe last time you holidayed here - it doesn't mean it is this time.
  • Be aware of rip tides and currents - they can drag you out to sea and are almost impossible to swim against.
  • Look for safety information, this might be local signs or flags on display at the beach and obey them.
  • Never enter the water after drinking alcohol.
  • Beware of mud and quick sands.

If you find yourself in difficulty in water

  • Stay calm.
  • Try to float on your back, cold water will make you gasp - control your breathing,
  • Shout for help or make your way back to the shore.

If you see someone else in trouble in the water - call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

“Swim safe” sessions are held throughout the country. These sessions are for 7-14 year olds and teach young people how to stay safe around open water www.swimsafe.org.uk 

The national drowning prevention campaign 'Be Water Aware' runs from Monday 29 April until Sunday 5 May 2019.