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Everyday activities near water can put you at risk of drowning

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Half of accidental drownings in 2019 happened when people didn't even intend to go in the water. Activities such as running, walking, fishing and cycling near water can all put you at risk of drowning.

The potentially fatal dangers of water are highlighted in the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is supporting the national week-long campaign which runs from 20 - 26 April 2020 and aims to highlight the risk of accidental drowning.

In 2019:

  • 263 people accidentally drowned in the UK
  • around 50% of these people just happened to be near water
  • about 87% of these fatalities were male
  • in addition 77 UK nationals, mainly tourists, drowned while abroad in 2018

Between 01/04/2010 and 31/03/2019, HWFRS attended 93 of accidental entrance into water. This equates to 20.44% of all rescues or evacuation from water during this period (455).

NFCC's Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Lead, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said: "We want people to enjoy spending time in and around water safely.

“Most people would be shocked to hear 263 people lost their lives last year while spending time near water because they were unaware of the risks and 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 and preventable deaths."

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s advice:

  • if you are going for a walk or run near water stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge
  • make sure conditions are safe, avoid walking or running near water in the dark, slippery or in bad weather
  • if you've had alcohol don't enter the water, avoid walking alone and avoid 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 children are fully supervised

The fire service has 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.