With the planned lifting of lockdown restrictions and the arrival of warmer spring weather, many people are likely to be celebrating with friends at waterside locations in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove. While keen for everyone to enjoy themselves, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service would like to make everyone aware of the dangers when near the water as part of its Safer Spring campaign.
According to the National Water Safety Forum, there were 223 accidental drownings in 2019 in the UK. On average, nearly half (46.8%) of those who accidentally drown hadn’t intended to enter the water and 82% were men. The South East had the third highest number of accidental drownings (after Scotland and the South West) over the last three years.
“A quarter of people who drowned were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so if you are drinking or taking drugs, stay with friends and plan a route home that is not near water,” advised Susan Taylor, ESFRS’s Water & Road Safety Coordinator.
Stay safe near water by taking the following precautions:
- Carry a phone when going out and if you are going out alone, tell someone where you’re going and when you will be back.
- Obey any warning or safety signs. Look out for trip or slip hazards around water and stick to proper pathways. Remember river banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way.
- Don’t fool around near water, especially if you have been drinking, and look out for each other.
If someone falls into deep water:
- Call 999 straight away, ask for the fire service and explain where you are. If you are unsure of the location, look for landmarks or signs – bridges may be able to identify your location. Or if you have a phone check maps or use the ‘what3words’ app.
- Don’t hang up, stay on the line but try to continue to help the person if you can.
- Once you’ve made the call, shout for help from anyone who might be close by.
- Don’t enter the water yourself to try to save someone. You are likely to go into shock if you go into cold water which will leave you unable to help, even if you are a strong swimmer.
- Look around for any lifesaving equipment there might be such as lifebelts or throw bags. If they are attached to a rope, make sure you hold or secure the end so you can pull the person in. If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use – even a ball can help.
- If you manage to get the person out of the water, they will always need medical attention – even if they seem fine. They may have hyperthermia or water in the lungs.
If you fall in the water:
- Resist the urge to thrash around and try to float on your back. Only once you are floating call for help or try to steer with your arms towards shore.
See Daniel’s story on our video about his experience of being rescued from the water. For more information see: https://www.esfrs.org/your-safety/water-safety-drowning-prevention/