Be Water Aware to reduce accidental drownings

Published 22nd Apr 2024

In 2022, 266 lives were lost to accidental drowning in the UK. These deaths are preventable tragedies, and we (NYFRS) are joining the call for people to stay safe in and around water.

The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) Be Water Aware campaign runs from 22-28 April. Its aim is to raise awareness about the risk of accidental drowning and providing safety advice ahead of the warmer months.

Statistics reveal 40% of people who accidentally drowned had no intention of entering the water. Slips trips and falls were often the cause of these accidents.

Many people also underestimate the dangers of jumping into water or taking a dip to cool off especially those with limited experience of outdoor swimming. Unseen hazards and cold water shock can mean even strong swimmers get into trouble.  Males account for 87% of these accidental fatalities, 60% of which are in inland waters such as rivers, reservoirs and lakes.

Simple tips to help stay safe include:

  • Stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge
  • Don’t enter the water after drinking alcohol
  • Walk a safe route home after drinking, with friends and away from water
  • Cold water shock can kill, walking into the water rather than jumping in can help reduce the risk.

As the statistics show, may people don’t expect their time near water to turn into an emergency, so knowing what to do if you or someone else is in trouble in the water is lifesaving advice.

If someone is in trouble in the water, the best way to help is by staying calm, staying on land, and remember Call, Tell, Throw:

  • Call 999 and ask for the fire service if inland and the coastguard if you’re at the coast.
  • Tell the struggling person to float on their back.
  • Throw them something that floats.

If you find yourself in trouble in the water, remember to ‘Float to Live’. Tilt your head back with your ears submerged. Relax and breathe normally. Move your hands to help stay afloat. Spread your arms and legs out. Once your breathing is controlled, call for help or swim to safety.

Dawn Whittaker, Drowning Prevention Lead for NFCC said: “Be Water Aware is about helping people spend time in and around water safely.

“We encourage people to reduce their risk of drowning by making safe choices around water and to know what to do if an emergency should happen.

“Simple advice to ‘Call, tell, throw’ and ‘Float to Live’ are lifesaving messages which fire services share to help reduce these preventable deaths and the devastating impact they have on families and communities.”

For more information about the ‘Be Water Aware’ campaign please visit: Be Water Aware – NFCC and look out for #BeWaterAware on social media.