Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

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Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service urges public to be water aware

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service urges public to be water aware

Monday, 29 April 2019

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is joining a call by UK fire chiefs to warn people of the dangers of drowning when involved in activities either in or near water.

Statistics show that drowning in the UK is now one of the leading causes of accidental death. In 2017 alone, 255 people accidentally drowned, with around 50% taking part in normal everyday activities near water at the time such as walking, running, cycling or fishing.

Whilst there has been a 20% drop in accidental drownings since 2015, MFRS and partner agencies continue to work proactively to ensure the public are aware of the dangers water poses and what to do if they should ever find themselves in difficulty.

To help spread awareness of the dangers around water, MFRS will be supporting The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) National Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week between 29th April and 5th May with a series of events across the region.

Working with Merseyside Police, Southport Lifeboat, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Mersey Ferries, MFRS will help to deliver a series of briefings and demonstrations to children from local schools at the Pier Head in Liverpool and on the Mersey Ferry. This will include a live demonstration of a rescue from water at the Mersey Ferry Terminal.

MFRS will also hold a number of other live demonstrations and educational events at various locations across Merseyside, including Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat Station, the Royal Albert Dock, Southport Lifeboat Station and Carr Mill Dam in St Helens.

Watch Manager Steve Thomas, Lead for Water Safety at MFRS, said: “The latest figures showing water linked fatalities make shocking reading and demonstrate just how serious the risks are for people who go near to or into water.

“Nearly 50% of people who accidently drown in the UK never intended to enter the water originally so it imperative that you are aware of the risks and take action accordingly.

“Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service are called out to incidents involving rescue from water on a frequent basis. Some of these are people who have deliberately entered the water, either in a distressed state, or possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs but many people do so accidentally.

“We would urge people engaging in activities near water such as running, dog walking or angling to be especially careful to stay safe. If you are involved in water sports or activities, make sure that you are well prepared, with the correct safety equipment and a good idea of weather and tidal conditions before you enter the water. If you have been for a night out, bear in mind that if you have been drinking, your judgement of risk may be affected, take a safe route home away from water.”

During water safety week, MFRS will be giving advice to people on what they should look out for and steps to take to minimise the risks near water.

As part of its continued commitment to reduce drownings across Merseyside, MFRS has recently formed the Merseyside Water Safety Forum alongside partners including the RNLI, RLSS, Merseyside Police and local authorities.

Ian Kay, Marine Rescue Team Leader at MFRS, added: “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 we must apply the same principle to tackling drowning. Response is not enough – we must prevent drownings.”

The NFCC aims to reduce the number of drownings in UK waters by 50% by 2026.
Make sure you follow these important safety tips near water:

• If you are going for a walk or run near water stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge

• Make sure conditions are safe, avoid walking or running near water in the dark, slippery or in bad weather

• If you've had alcohol don't enter the water, avoid walking alone and avoid routes near water

• Never enter the water to try and help a person or animal - always call 999 and use any water rescue equipment if it is available

• If you are spending time near water - whether at home or abroad make sure you are familiar with local safety information

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