Cumbria Fire and Rescue 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.
The 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.
Latest statistics show that in 2015, 321 people died after tipping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water.
The Chief Fire Officers Association’s Water Safety Lead Officer, Dawn Whittaker, said:
“Most people would be shocked to hear that those people drowning just happen to be near water such as runners, walkers and fisherman. 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 messages reach them we hope to reduce the number of needless deaths.
“The fire 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.”
Fire and Rescue services will be giving advice to people on what they should look out for and how to change 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.
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service will support Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week by undertaking community safety exercises and engaging with the public across the county to raise awareness of their swift water rescue capabilities:
Thursday 27 April – 1000hrs to 1300hrs. Lake Windermere Ferry Nab
Saturday 29 April - 1000hrs to 1300hrs. Coniston Boating Centre
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 by Robert Goodwill MP.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).