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East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo

Respect The Water This Bank Holiday Weekend

Date : 28 May 2021

Respect The Water.jpg

With this weekend’s bank holiday weekend coinciding with warmer weather, we are urging everyone to Respect The Water. 

During 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, 631 people lost their lives in UK waters.  58 per cent of these deaths happened in inland water, with almost half of all people having no intention to be in the water, such as those walking who tripped, fell or were swept in by waves.  In 2020, 13 people tragically lost their lives in the water in East Sussex. 

If you see someone in difficulty in the water call 999 and ask for the Fire Service if inland or the Coastguard if at sea. 

If you are intending to enter the water this year, we want you to be aware of the risks and also know what you should do if you find yourself in danger. 

Cold Water Shock- Float To Live 

Did you know that cold water shock is the biggest cause of drowning in the UK?  Even strong and confident swimmers can struggle and drown after jumping into cold and unpredictable seas, rivers, canals and lakes as water temperatures can still be very low in the spring. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you should float on your back whilst catching your breath.  Wait for a minute as the effects of cold water shock pass in less than a minute and then attempt to swim to safety.  If you are unable to swim to safety, call for help. 

Beach Swimming

If you are heading to the beach to swim this weekend, please only swim on a lifeguarded beach. You can find a list of lifeguarded beaches in East Sussex here 

If you see someone in difficulty, don’t attempt a rescue – tell a lifeguard, or dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard.

Top tips!

  • Always swim at a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. 
  • Never swim alone.    
  • Make sure you understand and obey any safety flags at the beach and pay attention to the lifeguard, if there’s one on duty.     
  • Check the weather and tides before setting out. 
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back. 
  • Don’t drink alcohol before going in or on the water. 
  • While at the beach, never let your young children out of your reach – supervision is the key to preventing serious accidents.
  • Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – do not use them in open water.
  • Keep in touch – take some means of communication with you, like a mobile phone or a whistle. 

What to do if someone falls into deep water 

Call for help – straight away. Call 999.   

  • The emergency services will need to know where you are. Accurate information can save precious minutes. If you have a smartphone with location services or maps this can help. If not, look around for any landmarks or signs – for example, bridges may have numbers on them which can identify their location. You can also use the What3Words app which gives a unique set of three words to help us find you.   
  • Don’t hang up – stay on the line but try and continue to help the person if you can.
  • When you have made the call shout for help from anyone who might be close by.
  • Human nature says you are likely to want to attempt to help while rescue services are on their way. Never enter the water to try to save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem.
  • If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock which will leave you unable to help even if you are a strong swimmer.
  • Can the person help themselves? Shout to them ‘Swim to me’. The water can be disorientating and this can give them a focus. Keep any instructions short clear and loud. Don’t shout instructions using different words each time.
  • Look around for any lifesaving equipment there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them. If they are attached to a rope make sure you have secured or are holding the end of the rope so you can pull them in.
  • If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use even an item such as 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. 



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