News release text
24 June 2014
On average, around 400 people drown in the UK each year. More than 40 of these are children and young people. It is estimated that for every death by drowning there are around 300 near misses.*
The majority of cases of drowning could be prevented, so Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) fire crews will be out this week at community events raising awareness and warning of the risks around water.
Activities will coincide with Drowning Prevention Week (21-29 June), the national campaign run by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to promote water safety messages and help reduce incidents of drowning.
KFRS community safety manager Charlie Smith said: “Kent and Medway has an extensive network of tidal and coastal waterways. There are also a number of lakes and deep-water quarries. After the floods and heavy rain this winter, people need to take extra care when walking near waterways to avoid falling in or getting stranded, as the ground may be unstable, muddy or washed away.
“The warm weather, water may look tempting to swim in, but it can be far deeper than it looks, with unseen hazards and dangerous currents. Also, the water can be very cold, no matter how warm the weather, which can quickly cause cramp and breathing difficulties, making it harder to get out unaided.”
All too often, entering the water can end in tragic loss of life or serious life-changing injuries. It is hoped that our efforts throughout the summer, both out and about and in schools, will help prevent such incidents and help people stay safe near the water.”
For Drowning Prevention Week KFRS will be involved in the following activities:
The KFRS education team will be providing water safety workshops in five schools in the Tonbridge area.
Fire crews will be maintaining a presence at the locks around Tonbridge, as well as patrolling the river on a rescue boat whenever possible to help raise awareness of water safety.
Tonbridge crews will also be attending nurseries, children’s centre and primary schools throughout this week.
Firefighters from Tonbridge will be attending a Firefighter Rally event at Lullingstone Castle on 28 and 29 June, to provide water safety advice.
Crews from Tonbridge also attended Tonbridge carnival to promote water safety (last Saturday 22 June).
The community engagement team will be attending a range of summer fetes and community events promoting water and summer safety, supported where available by fire crews and KFRS volunteers.
Further water safety related activity will be taking place over the summer holidays including a targeted focus on safety around quarries and lakes.
Here are some further safety tips and information on Drowning Prevention Week
*Figures from Royal Life Saving Society