Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has joined a call by UK fire chiefs to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water after statistics show nearly 50% of people who accidentally drown in the UK never intend to enter the water.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Water Safety and Drowning Prevention campaign, ‘Be Water Aware’, is running from April 24 – April 30 and is being supported by fire and rescue services throughout the UK. Latest statistics show that in 2015, 321 people died after tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water.
NFCC Water Safety Lead, Dawn Whittaker, said:
“Most people would be shocked to hear that those people drowning just happen to be near water such as runners, walkers and fisherman.
“They are unaware of the risks and are totally unprepared for the scenario of ending up in the water. By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them we hope to reduce the number of these needless deaths.
“The fire service has successfully reduced the number of fire deaths by focussing on prevention work and now we must apply the same principle to tackling drowning. Response is not enough - we must prevent drownings.”
Fire and rescue services will be giving advice to people on what they should look out for and how to change their behaviour to minimise their risk of becoming one of these statistics. Messages will be posted on social media using the hashtag #BeWaterAware and people are encouraged to share the posts to spread the message.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service are supporting the campaign this week and operational crews will integrate a prevention message into their educational work from this week and throughout the summer months. Zena Williams’ brother Matt Dunnett died in June 2015 after he jumped into cold water at Alton Water. She has given her support to the week-long campaign to attempt to prevent such incidents happening again in the county.
Miss Williams said:
“These tragedies can happen to anyone, regardless of their swimming ability. I would urge people to take time to think of the dangers of water before putting themselves, and others, at risk.”
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Mark Hardingham, said:
“Everyone at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service sends their thanks to Zena for supporting this campaign.
“By sharing safety messages during the week and attempting to educate those in Suffolk about the hidden dangers of water, I hope we can make a reduction in the numbers of those drowning not just in our county, but across the UK as well.”