Fire service act to prevent accidental drowning

Published: 24 Apr 2017

Hertfordshire County Council’s fire and rescue service is supporting a national initiative to reduce drowning deaths 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 tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water.

Area Commander Steve Holton 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 safety messages reach them we hope to reduce the number of these needless deaths.”

Firefighters across the county will be out and about spreading water safety messages and giving advice on how to stay safe around water.

• Hatfield – the specialist water rescue unit are attending the waterways in Rickmansworth with Herts Boat Rescue to educate people in and around the waterway to educate on specific dangers and give advice on staying safe. They are also attending Broxbourne boating lake on 27 April visiting two local fishing lakes on 29 April.
• Hemel Hempstead – on 27 April crews will be patrolling the canal from Apsley lock and providing water safety advice to dog walkers, people fishing and boat users.
• St Albans - visiting Verulam lake on 24 April near to the Westminster lodge site, and engaging with the general public , dog walkers , runners and people with pushchairs .
• Borehamwood – crew will be attending Aldenham Country Park on 27/28 April
• Welwyn Garden City – crew will be attending Stanborough Lakes on 26 April in the morning with the HVP to carry out a training exercise. They will speak with the public and hand out leaflets. The volunteers have also been invited along to support this.
• Potters Bar – crew will be attending Oakmere Park to hand out leaflets on 25 and 27of April to speak with the fishermen and dog walkers.
• Stevenage – crews will carry out safety patrols on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at Fairlands Valley Lakes
• Baldock – crew will give school talk to children about open water swimming and water safety
• Royston - Visits to local leisure centre, leaflet distribution and display in outside display cabinet.
• Hitchin - Awareness talk to schools and display in town centre.

Messages will be posted on social media using the hashtag #BeWaterAware and people are encouraged to share the posts to spread the message.

Working as part of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), UK fire services are aiming to reduce the number of drownings in UK waters by 50% by 2026.

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).