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Respect the Water – World Drowning Prevention Day

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is supporting the UK’s National Water Safety Forum as part of World Drowning Prevention Day.

Monday, 25 July marks the second ever World Drowning Prevention Day following a resolution made by the United Nations in April 2021. Every year, an estimated 236,000 people drown, making drowning a leading cause of accidental death worldwide. Last year, 277 people died of accidental drowning in the UK.

To mark this year’s World Drowning Prevention Day, the UK’s National Water Safety Forum is launching the Respect the Water Campaign. As part of the campaign, RBFRS will be sharing lifesaving information about what to do in case of an emergency in the water.

Tregear Thomas, Area Manager for Service Delivery, said: “The message we’re trying to get out to people is to make sure that they should respect the water – to stay safe. ”

“What can tend to happen with large bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, is that the water just under the surface can be really cold. When you jump into the water, you can enter something called cold water shock.

“If you do ever experience cold water shock, try not to panic, relax and just try to float on the surface of the water. The cold water shock will pass and, when it does, you’ll be able to swim to the bank and get yourself out.”

RBFRS recommends the following tips for staying safe in and around the water:

  • If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float to live. Do not panic, float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass. When the cold water shock has passed, you can then swim to the edge or call for help.
  • If someone else falls into the water, call 999 straight away and ask to speak to the fire service and ambulance.
  • Never enter the water to try and save someone, even if you are a strong swimmer. Shout to the person in the water ‘swim to me.’
  • The water can be disorientating and this can give them a focus. Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them.
  • If you are thinking of entering the water, consider your exit point, and any emergency exits, before you get in.
  • Do not jump into open water, often referred to as ‘tombstoning’, as this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock, even on the warmest day.
  • Think twice before swimming in open water such as rivers or lakes. You have no idea what’s beneath the surface, there could be unseen currents and reeds, which could pull you under.

Read more about water safety on our website.