Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) is urging people to stay safe around water as more of us start enjoying time outdoors.
Drowning remains one of the leading causes of accidental death – with more than 223 accidental drownings recorded in 2019 with the south east accounting for the third highest number of accidental drownings across the whole of the UK (National Water Safety Forum).
Over the last five years there were 35 accidental drownings recorded in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight alone.
HIWFRS has issued a water safety warning during The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) ‘Be Water Aware’ week campaign which runs from 26 April – 2 May.
Group Manager for Community Safety at HIWFRS, John Amos, said:
“With the Solent right on our doorstep, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are surrounded by water. The area we serve includes two port cities and a large number of beaches, so it’s vital that we continue to warn members of our community about the dangers they face, particularly when the majority of tragedies occur when people are carrying out everyday tasks and don’t even plan to enter the water.
“As lockdown eases and people start to enjoy the outdoors more, Be Water Aware week is a great opportunity for us to remind people how to stay safe when in and around water and what to do if things go wrong.
“We’re proud to work in partnership with local organisations and the RNLI to promote water safety.”
HIWFRS has been called to a number of multi-agency water response incidents over the last 12 months including two kayakers in trouble in Portsmouth and a person stuck in mud with an incoming tide in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight.
Guy Addington, Water Safety Lead, South East Region for RNLI, added:
“The RNLI is proud to work with the Fire and Rescue Service and other key organisations to tackle drowning and to raise awareness around water safety.
Together we have a stronger voice and a better chance of saving lives which would otherwise be lost to drowning; we urge people to take heed.”
NFCC’s Drowning Prevention Lead Dawn Whittaker said:
“We want people to enjoy spending time in and around water safely and that’s why we are asking people to be water aware.
By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them, we hope to reduce the number of these needless and preventable deaths.”
Be Water Aware top tips:
- Never swim alone in case you need help
- Don’t drink alcohol when undertaking water related activities, it impairs judgement and your ability to swim
- Avoid walking routes near water if you have been drinking alcohol
- Don’t dive or jump straight into open water, this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock even on the warmest day
- Actively supervise children in and around water – drowning can happen fast and silently
- If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, don’t panic, extend your arms and legs out and float on your back until the effect of cold-water shock pass
In the event of an emergency:
Never enter the water to try and rescue someone, call 999 and ask for the Fire Service if inland and the Coastguard if you are at the coast.