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Know the dangers - make sure your family don't land themselves in deep water

Know the dangers - make sure your family don't land themselves in deep water

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10 April 2015

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) will be out in force in the coming weeks passing on useful tips about how to stay safe in and around water to support the Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Awareness campaign.

In 2013 there were 669 water related fatalities – that’s two-and-a-half times the number of people that died in fires in homes 2012/132.

Lee Rose, Head of Community Safety at KFRS, said: "Swimming in outdoor rivers, quarries and lakes is not like being in a heated indoor pool, where you have lifeguards watching out for your safety, the water is clear and clean, the depth is marked and there are entry and exit points.

"Despite looking inviting, rivers, lakes and quarries are not playgrounds. They can be full of unseen hazards, which can quickly turn a dip into a disaster. You don’t know how deep the water is and strong currents could drag you away from the bank. Even on a warm day the water is likely to be cold, tiring the most experienced swimmers quickly and the locations can be in quite remote areas with few people around to help, should you get into difficulty."

Apart from the risk of drowning, taking a plunge in unclean water could make you seriously ill and in some cases can be fatal. Health risks include:

  • Rat urine – can cause an illness called Weil’s Disease. Initially it can cause flu-like symptoms between 7 and 26 days after you swim and, if untreated, the secondary stage can cause death;

  • Cryptosporidium – a parasite that gives you bad stomach cramps and diarrhoea;

  • Trachoma – an eye infection that can lead to blindness;

  • Whipworm – worm eggs that hatch inside the body after being swallowed;

  • Toxic algae – which can cause skin rashes and stomach upsets.

Lee added: "If you see someone struggling in the water, don't put yourself in danger by going in to help them. Phone 999 and if there's a life ring or buoy nearby, throw it close to them and try to pull them towards the water's edge.

"We want you and your family to enjoy spending time safely outdoors but if you need us, we're here 24/7. Our firefighters are trained to the highest level in water and mud rescues, including carrying out rescues from fast flowing water. We have five specialist water safety units in the county, each with a motor powered boat and inflatable raft. Each unit carries mud rescue paths, throw lines for pulling people to safety, and life jackets."

KFRS is supporting The Chief Fire Officers Association national campaign – Tell a friend. Save a friend – during CFOA’s Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week which runs from 13 to 19 April 2015.

Crews will be at the following venues:

  • Water safety/drowning prevention literature has been distributed to leisure centres and swimming pools in the Gravesend area. Crews will also be visiting the canal basin, marina, sailing and canoe clubs

  • Swanley Park, New Barn Road from 12 noon and 4pm on Saturday, 18 April

  • Isle of Sheppey activity includes visiting holiday caravan parks and shops in Minster. On Friday, 17 April between 2.30pm and 4.30pm they will be at Minster Leas giving safety advice about the dangers of staying safe on and around the mud and water and what to do in an emergency

  • Sharing water safety advice in Edenbridge and showcasing water safety rescue equipment at the fire station on Saturday, 25 April between 10am and 12 noon

  • Thursday, 23 April crews will be taking part in a water rescue training exercise in Eynsford Ford from 7.15pm and giving safety advice to people    

  • Talking to students at schools in Hoo

Lee's final words of advice were: "Respect the water and you'll reduce your chances of getting into trouble but you can get more safety tips here

Notes to Editors:

  1. Statistics relating to water fatalities come from the National Water Safety Forum Water Incident Database (WAID) data, 2013

  2. Statistics relating to accidental dwelling fires come from Fire Statistics Great Britain, 2012-13  

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