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Berkshire Residents reminded to #BeWaterAware

The campaign aims to highlight the risks of accidentally drowning when in and around water. Almost 50 percent of people who accidentally drowned in 2020 had no intention of entering the water.

Many people underestimate the risks associated with jumping into cold water. The effects of cold water shock and not knowing how to self-rescue can cause even the strongest swimmers to drown.

As the weather continues to improve, it is important to remember that, even on warm days, the temperature in open water can remain very cold. Cold water shock causes a physical reaction that makes it difficult to control breathing causing panic. A natural reaction is to gasp and all of this making swimming extremely difficult.

Other safety advice issued by RBFRS includes:

  • ·If you find yourself in difficulty in the water, don’t panic. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back in the water and float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass. Then you can call for help or swim to safety.
  • ·If someone is in trouble in water, call 999. At the coast, ask for the coastguard. If you’re inland, ask for the fire and rescue service.
  • ·You should never enter the water to attempt a rescue as cold water shock may happen to you.

Neil Whiteman, Safety Education Team said “As the weather continues to improve, we’re asking people to take care in and around the water. Any body of water; be it a river, lake or the sea, carries risks which can pose a serious threat to life you don’t take care.

“If you’re in trouble in the water, remember to float to live. Do not panic, float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass and then swim to shore or call for help.

“If someone else falls into the water, call 999 straight away. The water can be disorientating and shouting to them can help them to focus. Depending on where you are, there might be lifebelts or throw lines. Use them if they’re available.”

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue crews will be present at popular waterfront spots across the County to offer water safety advice and guidance throughout the week.