Be Water Aware this summer

Release Date: 19 June 2017

With the warm weather set to continue, people in Richmond upon Thames are urged to be more Water Aware this summer.

Richmond Council is joining forces with Richmond Fire Service to encourage residents to Be Water Aware as part of Drowning Prevention Week (16-26 June).

The campaign encourages schools, clubs, leisure centres and communities to promote water safety through events, lessons, games and activities in a bid to make people more aware of the dangers of water.

One person drowns every 20 hours in the UK and hundreds more suffer life-changing injuries through near drowning. Statistics show that nearly 50% of people who accidentally drowned had no intention of entering the water. Adhering to some simple advice can reduce the risk of ending up in the water and reduce the number of fatalities.

Cllr Stephen Speak, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said:

“We are a very lucky borough – with 21 miles of river running right through the middle. However, with this beauty comes danger because the Thames can be fast flowing and cold water quickly saps the strength of even proficient swimmers.

“As children prepare to start their summer holidays and everyone plans to enjoy the summer often around water of some description, not just the river but paddling pools to beaches, it is crucially important to educate ourselves on how to stay safe around water. Involvement in this excellent initiative will hopefully result in an enjoyable and safe summer around water for all.”

Andy Cane, London Fire Brigade’s Borough Commander for Richmond said:

“From a distracted jogger tripping over, to dog walkers chasing after their pet, Londoners need to realise how important it is to take care near water. London has the 4th highest number of drownings in the country despite having no coast line, it has a network of canal and river paths enjoyed by thousands of people every day but it’s important to know how to stay safe.

“50% of people who accidentally drown never intended to be in the water in the first place. 35% of victims are aged between 15-29 years old and had alcohol in their system. Do not enter the water if you have been drinking. People also often get trapped in mud by the waterside that doesn’t look too deep until it’s too late.

“If someone falls into deep water the first thing is to call for help straight away. Call 999 and ask for the fire service and ambulance. Don’t hang up – stay on the line but try and continue to help the person if appropriate. When you have made this call, shout for help from anyone who might be close by.”

Never enter the water to try and save someone. This can add to the problem even if you are a strong swimmer. If there's no life-saving equipment, look around for something to reach out to those in the water such as a scarf or a long stick. Lie on the ground so your body is safely on the edge to avoid being pulled in. 

If you do manage to get them out of the water, always seek medical attention – if water has entered the lungs then it can cause death up to 48 hours after the incident.

For more information, visit the Royal Life Saving Society UK website.

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.

Reference: P268/17

Updated: 30 June 2017