Fire and Rescue Service urges public to Be Water Aware

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This weeks, 24-30 April 2017, is Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) has pledged its support to the UK wide campaign – Be Water Aware, to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Water Safety and Drowning Prevention campaign – Be Water Aware is supported by fire and rescue services throughout the UK.

Latest statistics show that in 2015, 321 people in the UK died after tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water. 50% of people who accidently drown in the UK never intended to enter the water.

Runners-and-Walkers-Campaign-Leaflet-and-Poster1-Eng-webThe Be Water Aware campaign aims to raise awareness amongst the public, specifically within three groups of people identified as being most vulnerable to accidental drowning.

  • Anglers – almost twice as many people drowned fishing as did sailing in 2015.
  • Students & young adult drinkers – in 2015, 35% of accidental drowning victims, aged 15-29 years old, had alcohol in their bloodstream.
  • Runners and walkers – are the group at highest risk of accidental drowning in the UK.

Between 2012 and 2017, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service attended 25 water related fatalities.

Station Manager Steve Richards, MAWWFRS Youth Team Manager said, “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are working in partnership with the Royal Life Saving Society and Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership to deliver water safety advice and promote good practice, at events in Aberystwyth and Tenby to the people in mid and west Wales.

Since 2012, MAWWFRS have attended to 244 individuals who required rescuing from water. The circumstances of these incidents vary.

As the days get longer and temperatures rise, we all enjoy any opportunity to spend our spare time outdoors.

When running or walking next to water, stay clear of the edges. River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way; look out for trip or slip hazards, pay attention to your footing and stick to proper pathways.

Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble, if you have been drinking stay well clear from bodies of water.

If somebody does fall into deep water, call 999 straightaway, if you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for Fire Service and Ambulance.”

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Safety Advice for Drinkers

Stay with your group and don’t wander off if you become separated.

Keep an eye on any friends who are worse for wear and make sure you help them home.

Avoid walking near water even if the path is lit, you may not realise how unsteady on your feet you are.

Make sure you store a taxi number in your phone and some emergency money at home so you can pay. If the money is at home you can’t lose it or accidently spend it.

Safety Advice for Runners and Walkers

Make sure your walk or run is suitable for your fitness level.

Consider joining a running or walking group.

Be aware and take notice of any warning signs.

When running or walking next to water, stay clear of the edges.

Wear appropriate footwear and clothing.

Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength, know how to use it and in an emergency call 999.

Look out for trip or slip hazards – pay attention to your footing.

Stick to proper pathways.

Don’t walk or run next to water if levels are high.

Make sure you know exactly where you are – consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map.

Don’t assume just because you have walked or run a route many times before it is still safe.

Avoid walking or running near water in the dark.

Safety Advice for Anglers

Check forecast and weather conditions before you go.

Make sure you let someone know where you are going to fish, give them an idea of when you are likely to return.

Be careful if you are wading in water- waders can fill with water making it hard to move and currents can be strong and pull you over.

Make sure you know exactly where you are – consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map.

Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength, know how to use it and in an emergency call 999.

Double check your fishing spot. Is it safe? For example, riverbanks can erode and just because it was safe one day doesn’t mean it still is.

Always dress appropriately, sturdy footwear, sun hat in hot weather, warm layers in cold weather.

Coastal and sea fishing is particularly high risk – Make sure you know your spot is safe and you won’t get cut off by the tide.

Wear a lifejacket – even if you are a strong swimmer.

Don’t drink alcohol whilst fishing.