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Be Water Aware

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking residents to take extra care while near water, in support of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Be Water Aware campaign, which runs from 20-26 April.

Whilst walking or running is a great way to get your daily exercise, we’re urging residents to take care if they are walking or running near open water, such as canals, rivers and lakes.

Last year, 263 people drowned in the UK, and half of these did not mean to enter the water.*

If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water while you’re out, try to stay calm and float. Floating for up to two minutes allows the effects of cold water shock to pass and enables you to regain control of your breathing.

Group Manager, Chris Holland, said: “We know that many of our residents will want to use their daily exercise to go for a jog by the river, but there are some real risks involved. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings, watch out for trip hazards and, wherever possible, go with somebody else from within your household, making sure you’re following the Government’s social distancing advice.”

As the weather starts to get warmer, it may become more tempting to go for a dip to cool off. However, you do not know what’s beneath the surface, and reeds and strong currents could pull you under, even if you are a strong swimmer. This could put extra pressure on emergency services and the NHS during these challenging times. By not going for a swim, and staying home unless you’re going for a run, walk or cycle, you will be reducing the pressure on your emergency services and ultimately helping to save lives. 

To stay safe when you’re out and about:

  • Be aware of your surroundings – take notice of any warning signs that might be in place
  • Stick to proper pathways and look for slip or trip hazards. Take extra care to stay away from of the edges of river and canal banks.
  • If you can go for a walk or run with a member of your household, do so. Do not meet with family or friends who do not live with you. If you live alone, why not ask somebody to track your journey?
  • Don’t walk or run next to water if the levels are high.
  • Riverbanks may be unstable after wet weather – make sure you take extra care.
  • Never enter the water to try and save someone. Call 999 straight away and if there’s a lifebelt or throw bag nearby use them.

For more information on social distancing and how you can protect the NHS and save lives, refer to the Government guidance.