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Fire and Rescue Service urges people to ‘Be Water Aware’

Written by on 29/03/2021

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Be Water Aware campaign, which aims to raise awareness of water related incidents and prevent the number of drowning accidents.

With the Easter school holidays and the potential easing of COVID-19 restrictions pending, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is asking the people of Cumbria to stay safe in our beautiful lakes and rivers this spring.

Half of accidental drownings in the UK occur when people didn’t intend to go in the water, so simple steps to raise awareness of the risks around water and how they can be reduced will help prevent these deaths.

The three main types of water related accidents Cumbria FRS attend are:

  • Rescue of people who didn’t intend to go in the water
  • Rescue of people who were in the water intentionally and get into difficulty
  • Rescue of people who intentionally enter the water with the intent to harm themselves

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager and Head of Community Safety, Craig Drinkald, said:

“We want people to enjoy spending time in and around water safely. Most people would be shocked to hear that 263 people across the UK lost their lives last year while spending time near water. This is because they were unaware of the risks and unprepared for the scenario of ending up in the water.

“In Cumbria, we carried out more than 200 water rescues between 2015 and 2020, which sadly included 8 fatalities. By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach our communities, we hope to reduce the number of these preventable deaths.

“Temperatures in Cumbria have started to rise slightly, but that does not mean all of our nearby waters are safe to be entered.”

Cumbria Constabulary’s Chief Superintendent, Rob O’Connor added:

“It may be tempting to visit our lakes and beauty spots as the weather improves, however we would advise people not to enter the water.

“Although the water may look calm and pleasant, there can be hazards that aren’t visible underneath the surface of the water, which will also still be cold at this time of year.”

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service Water Safety Advice:

  • If you are spending time near water, make sure you know what to do if you happened to fall in. The advice is not to panic, float on your back and then either call for help or swim to safety.
  • If you’ve consumed alcohol, do not enter the water, and avoid walking 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 and that children are always fully and actively supervised.

Craig Drinkald added:

“Our county has lots of beauty spots near the water and they are especially nice to enjoy when the sun is shining. We don’t want to spoil people’s fun by telling them not to jump into rivers and lakes, but we do feel it is important to educate the whole community about the risk open water poses if you are not a trained professional with the correct equipment.

“Prevention is always better than cure. We want people to enjoy the water safely and we are fully committed to preventing drowning incidents from happening in the first place. In order to do this, more education is needed, not just in schools but also through engaging with the public in awareness campaigns, so that people fully understand the risks and are better prepared.”

Across the UK, Fire and Rescue Services have 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.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service will be sharing a range of resources on their website and social media channels, so please look out further advice. Keep up to date with the hashtag #BeWaterAware on social media.