Today is World Drowning Prevention Day (Tuesday, 25 July)
It is a day where we raise awareness of drowning but also take time to remember those affected by such tragic events.
Over recent weeks two high-profile inquests have concluded in other areas of the country.
Two very different stories, two very different version of events, involving very different people, but both concluded with one thing in common.
All five people died after falling into open water, none of which intended to enter the water that day, all of them are tragically, no longer with us.
Last year around 40% of people who died from drowning didn’t intend to enter the water.
Those statistics are shocking, but they are the reality for the family and friends of those who have died.
We often talk and publish information on water safety but it is real-life events like this which truly makes the message hit home.
Station Manager for Prevention Adam Farrow, said: “Water safety is literally a matter of life and death, so it is vital people are taught the potential dangers open water can pose.
“There are a lot of unknown dangers in water, we don’t want to stop people going in, but there are measures you can take to reduce risks, such as swimming in designated areas and not overestimating your swimming ability.
“Even the strongest swimmers can easily get into difficulty in open water, and I strongly encourage everyone to learn to float to live technique, as it may just save your life.
“As a fire and rescue service we regularly carry out educational activities, to help those at highest risk of drowning to make better decisions when it comes to entering the water. These include visiting popular open water sites, delivering talks in schools and sharing important messages on social media. ”
Whatever the weather, the water temperature or swimming experience, water can and will kill.
Here are some facts around drowning, which we hope will reinforce the message of why this is so important:
- In the past year North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been called to 44 water rescue incidents
- Over 40% of people involved in water related incidents don’t intend on entering the water (runners falling in, people rescuing their dog or other animal for example)
- 47% of accidental drowning occur between May and August
- 83% of those who accidentally drown in the UK are male
- 59% of UK accidental drownings occur at inland water sites
- An average of 312 UK and Irish citizens lose their life to accidental drowning each year
- Alcohol and/or drugs are a factor in 32% of all UK accidental drowning.
This evening the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and North Yorkshire Police joint headquarters will be lit blue to remember all those who have died or been affected by drowning.
There is lots of water safety advice on our website and those of partner agencies, and we will be sharing more information today and over the summer.
Please stay safe, and remember, if you need us, we are only a phone-call away – in the event of a water safety emergency call 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service (inland) or the coastguard (along the coast).