HWFRS backs Drowning Prevention Week to help people stay safe around water

Water rescue

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is urging parents to ensure their children know how to stay safe and enjoy the water this summer.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), more than 300 people die each year in the UK and Ireland from accidental drowning with 59 per cent occurring at inland water sites and 47 per cent not intending to be in the water.

HWFRS has been called out to 48 incidents involving death from accidental drowning over the last 10 years up to 1 April 2023 with nine in both the Worcester and Wyre Forest areas, six in Evesham and five in Hereford.

There have been 236 incidents over the period of people being rescued or evacuated from open-water sources which does not include flooding.

HWFRS is therefore supporting RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week (17-24 June) which aims to ensure everyone knows how to have fun and stay safe near water.

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said: “We are proud to play our part in ensuring families in Herefordshire and Worcestershire have a safe summer.

“We recognise how vitally important it is for children to know how to stay safe near water and urge parents to access RLSS UK’s free water safety resources on the charity’s website.

“Now that summer has arrived and more people are heading to the countryside in our two counties and further afield, I would urge everyone not to swim in lakes, rivers or quarries.

“These can be particularly perilous with the water temperature much colder below the surface and concealing unseen but dangerous objects.”

Even on a warm day, open-water temperatures can remain low and cause cold water shock – a physical reaction which creates panic and makes it difficult to control breathing and to swim.

If in difficulty in the water, people are urged not to panic and ‘Float to Live’.

This means leaning back in the water and spreading arms and legs to stay afloat and control the breathing.

When the effects of cold-water shock have passed, call out for help or swim to safety.

If someone is in trouble in water, call 999 and ask for the fire service rather than entering the water to attempt a rescue.

People can visit www.rlss.org.uk to access the charity’s free water safety resources and www.hwfire.org.uk/safety-and-advice/water-safety/
to see the HWFRS water safety guidance.

RLSS UK resources range from Save a Life workshops and water safety fun days for primary schools to bespoke dry or wet side events and lifeguarding skills and challenges.