As a national water safety campaign gets underway next week, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is aiming to raise awareness of the importance of water safety, in an effort to reduce the number of tragic incidents on Royal Berkshire’s waterways.
Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week is a campaign organised by the National Fire Chief’s Council, which runs from 23 to 29 April.
During the week, RBFRS staff will be in Sonning, Caversham, Windsor and Reading to speak to residents and raise awareness of the risks associated with open water. Local people will also have the opportunity to see some of the equipment that firefighters use when they are called upon to rescue someone from the water.
This includes RBFRS’s specialist Water Rescue Unit, including a rescue boat which can be deployed by crews to incidents on the River Thames. There will also be a demonstration of the drown tank, an innovative visual aid which highlights the dangers of swimming near weirs.
In 2016, 315 people accidently drowned in the UK – with around 50% of these people originally having no intention of entering the water and were taking part in everyday activities, such as running or walking.
Firefighters in Royal Berkshire have attended a total of 42 water related incidents since April last year, with 10 people losing their lives in the water.
David Newton, Watch Manager at Caversham Road Fire Station (where RBFRS’ Water Rescue Unit is based) said: “Although being near water is regarded by some as being a low risk activity, national statistics demonstrate that this is not the case.”
“The danger posed by open water is clear and despite our best efforts, lives are lost every year in Royal Berkshire’s waterways. Under the surface the water can contain unseen dangers, such as strong currents and reeds, which could pull you under, causing problems even for the best of swimmers.”
“For this reason, during the week we would invite you to come along to one of our educational talks to find out how you can be water aware and enjoy the water responsibly.”
- Thursday, 26 April, 10.30am – 3pm, Sonning Lock.
- Friday, 27 April, 10.30am – 3pm, Windsor Riverside.
- Saturday, 28 April, 6.30pm – 8.30pm, Riverside, The Oracle, Reading.
- Saturday, 28 April, 10.30am – 3pm, Reading Rowing Club, Thames Path, Caversham.
- Sunday, 29 April, 10.30am – 3pm, Wokingham Waterside Centre, Thames Valley Park, Reading.
For more information, including advice on what to do if you encounter someone who has fallen into deep water, please visit: www.rbfrs.co.uk/your-safety/out-and-about/water-safety/
For further information about the by the National Fire Chief’s Council’s campaign, please visit: www.cfoa.org.uk/22210