Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service demonstrate the dangers of accidental drowning

5 May 2017 Posted by

Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety (CFRCS) Service is supporting Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week by demonstrating a water rescue, which will show the effects of sudden immersion in cold water, on Monday 24 April, 11am at Bude Community Fire Station.

NFCC_dog walking safely adviceThe National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Water Safety and Drowning Prevention campaign – Be Water Aware is running from 24 – 30 April and is being supported by fire and rescue services throughout the UK.

CFRCS Service has joined a call by UK fire chiefs to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water after statistics show that nearly 50% of people who accidently drown in the UK never intended to enter the water.

Latest statistics¹ show that in 2015, 321 people died after tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water. Of the 50 who lost their lives in the South West 20% did so in Cornwall, the fourth highest of any county in England.

Latest statistics show that in 2015, 321 people died after tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water.

CFOA’s Water safety Lead, Dawn Whittaker, said: “Most people would be shocked to hear that those people drowning just happened to be near water such as runners, walkers and people fishing. 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.”

The fire and rescue service has successfully reduced the number of fire deaths by focussing on prevention work and now we must apply the same principle to tackling drowning. Response is not enough – we must prevent drownings.

Cornwall’s Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker said: “Water Safety and Drowning Prevention is a key area of work for us and I welcome this national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers. Too many lives are lost year on year across the UK and this targeted campaign aims to reduce the number of deaths which I am keen to achieve in Cornwall. I encourage all residents, businesses and visitors to Cornwall to help spread this message, understand the dangers and support us in saving lives by ‘Working Together to make Cornwall Safer’.”

Firefighter Andy Reynolds from CFRCS Service said: “Most people would wear a thick wetsuit if they had to take a swim in freezing cold water, but sadly it is clear from these statistics that people who had no intention of entering the water are drowning whilst wearing every day, or sports clothing. Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year and we urge people not to enter the water.  If you see someone in trouble, call 999 and look around for lifesaving equipment to throw or anything that might help a casualty stay afloat.”

Fire and rescue services will be giving advice to people on water safety, what they should look out for and how to change their behaviour to minimise their risk of becoming one of these statistics. Messages will be posted on social media using the hashtag #BeWaterAware and people are encouraged to share the posts to spread the message.

Working as part of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), the NFCC aims to reduce the number of drownings in UK waters by 50% by 2026. This is outlined in the UK’s first Drowning Prevention Strategy, which was launched on 29 February 2016.

The water safety messages that fire and rescue services will be delivering will also raise awareness and support of the safety campaigns run by other members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), which includes Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Amateur Swimming Association (ASA).

About the Author

Simon, Research & Information Officer, Amethyst, Community Safety Team

Contact

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E: sviles@cornwall.gov.uk

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