This World Drowning Prevention Day (25 July), Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is urging Kent and Medway residents to respect the water.
In the UK, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death and statistics have shown that drowning deaths are increasing, with more lives lost in inland water, than on the coast.
KFRS has specialist water safety teams with crews always ready to respond to inland water rescues, where people are in trouble in lakes and rivers.
With a number of UK drowning deaths in the last week alone, during the heatwave, water rescue experts at KFRS are reminding people not to take risks.
KFRS’ Tactical Advisor for Water Rescue, Grant Brooker, said: “We want everyone to able to enjoy being around water, but it’s so important to be water wise and aware of the dangers.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, how strong you are at swimming, or even if you don’t intend on getting in the water - anyone can end up in trouble if simple safety tips aren’t followed.
“If you find yourself by a lake, river, or the sea, taking just a few moments to look for potential hazards really can make the difference between having a nice time or finding yourself in need of rescue.”
Tips for anyone walking/running near water, or thinking about open water swimming:
- Stick to proper pathways, stay away from the edge and look out for slip/trip hazards
- Take warning or safety signs seriously – they’re there for a reason
- Avoid jumping or diving in – you don’t know how deep the water is or what hazards lie beneath the surface
- Opt to swim in areas designed for safe swimming, preferably where a lifeguard is on duty
- If you get into trouble or experience cold water shock, lean onto your back, gently move to help you stay afloat, and stay there until you can control your breathing – then shout for help or swim to safety if you can.
Grant added: “Always remember, the water could be colder than you think, deeper or more shallow than it looks, and more dangerous than it seems.
“If you see someone in trouble in a lake or river call 999 for the fire service, or if they’re in the sea ask for the Coastguard.”