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Water safety advice for Drowning Prevention Week

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Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is supporting Drowning Prevention Week, an initiative of the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) which will run from 20 to 28 June 2015.

Station Commander Alan Haley from Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said "on average more than 400 people drown in the UK each year. This campaign is predominantly aimed at raising awareness with children, teaching them vital water safety advice so that they can take it with them in to adult life. Young people are more likely to take risks while out with friends and be tempted to cool off and spend time in rivers, quarries and reservoirs during the summer months".

He continued "with the weather getting warmer and the summer holidays coming up we are keen to highlight water safety awareness to children, their parents and as wide a cross-section of the local community as possible. We would like to highlight the dangers of open water and encourage people, whatever their age, to take extra care. People do not understand that even the strongest swimmers can find themselves in difficulty, as the cold water causes muscles to cramp. There is then a strong possibility that they cannot swim due to muscular cramps which can then lead to drowning".

Stressing that he wanted people to enjoy the water safely, without putting themselves or others at risk, he urged everyone to take note of the following water safety advice:

  • Don't jump or dive into open water unless you know the depth. Submerged objects like rocks may not be visible and can cause serious impact injuries.
  • Be aware that there may be strong currents, even where the surface of the water appears calm. Don't go near weirs, locks, pipes and sluices.
  • Take notice of warning signs, safety information or flags near the water's edge.
  • Water can be very cold even in the summer causing cramp and breathing difficulties which can affect everyone regardless of their swimming ability.
  • Keep away from the river's edge and closely supervise young children at all times.
  • Wear the recommended safety equipment for your activity, eg life jackets/helmets.
  • Be warned - airbeds, etc. can be carried into deep water and may not keep you afloat.
  • Consuming alcohol may impair your ability and judgment – alcohol and swimming should never be mixed.
  • Get trained in life saving and resuscitation techniques.
  • Teach children to swim and not to go into the water alone.

Visit HWFRS's website at www.hwfire.org.uk for additional water safety information or www.drowningpreventionweek.org.uk or @HWFireSafety (Twitter)