Shropshire fire service backs campaign to reduce number of people drowning
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is backing a national campaign aimed at reducing the number of people who drown every year.
The campaign runs for a week from April 23 and aims to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water, after statistics show that nearly 50 per cent of people who accidentally drown in the UK never intended to enter the water.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), a body made up of all chief fire officers in the UK, aims to reduce the number of drownings in UK waters by 50 per cent by 2026.
The latest available national statistics show that in 2016, 315 people drowned after tripping, falling or slipping into water.
James Bainbridge, a member of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service's prevention team, said: "Many people will be shocked to learn that a quarter of drownings involve people who just happen to be near water such as runners, walkers and fisherman.
“Something as simple as taking your dog for a walk carries a degree of risk if your walk is close to water, especially if it’s a stretch of water you know very well. That familiarity can cause someone to drop their guard. By highlighting risks like this we hope to reduce the number of needless deaths."
Runners and walkers are the most vulnerable group but the campaign is also focussing on young adult drinkers aged 15 to 29. In 2016 64 people in this age group drowned and 30 per cent of them had been drinking.
Mr Bainbridge added: “Alcohol and being close to deep water is often a fatal cocktail and, sadly, it’s young people who are most often the victims."
The campaign advises young drinkers to avoid deep water on their way home and make sure friends get home safely after a evening on the town.
In Shropshire the number of drownings has been falling steadily in recent years.
Mr Bainbridge said: “Thousands of people regularly enjoy Shropshire’s many beautiful stretches of water and we certainly don’t want to discourage that. This campaign is all about encouraging people to be cautious and sensible when they are on or near open water."
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued guidance on what people should do if they see someone fall into water or fall into it themselves.
The guidance says to call 999 or 112 immediately and ask for fire service and ambulance, pinpoint your location as accurately as you can, encourage the casualty to try and float on their back, if there is rescue equipment nearby throw it to them, and never ever enter the water to try and save someone.
The guidance adds that if you fall in the water you should fight the instinct to panic or swim, lie back, push your stomach up and use your hands and feet to help you float, and try to control the effects of cold water shock such as the gasping reflex.