As the holiday season gets underway across Kent and Medway, Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is urging everyone to have fun, but to stay safe around water this summer.
KFRS will be helping people to be ‘water aware’ over the next few weeks by highlighting the everyday dangers of being near water or mud.
Around 400 people on average drown in the UK every year, which is one person every 20 hours and 44% of people who drowned in 2014 had no intention of entering the water.
In 2014-15 KFRS was involved with 25 water or mud related rescues, which increased to 40 in the last 12 months to June 2016.
KFRS Community Safety Manager, Charlie Smith said: "Being near water or mud is often perceived as a low risk activity, while water-based activities are considered high risk. But statistics show that's not the case. People shouldn't assume they're not at risk of drowning just because they don't intend to go into or on the water."
Charlie added "Most people would be shocked to hear that those people drowning just happen to be near water, such as runners, dog walkers and anglers. 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."
By following some simple advice, you can reduce your risk of ending up in the water, and as a result putting the life of your rescuer or the life of a firefighter at risk:
- Never fool around near water - you might trip and fall in.
Take care on riverbanks - they may be slippery or unstable.
Go with a friend if you're going swimming, fishing or boating - they can help - or get help - if you're in trouble in difficult water.
KFRS is encouraging parents to be aware of where their children are this summer, and importantly, to give safety advice to keep their youngsters safe while they’re out of school.
Charlie said: "Rivers, lakes and quarries may look inviting, but they’re not playgrounds and are full of unseen hazards. A quick dip can turn into a disaster, especially as you won’t know how deep the water is or how strong the currents are that can drag you away from the bank. Even when the sun is shining the water is likely to be cold and can tire the most experienced swimmers. Apart from the risk of drowning, taking a plunge in unclean water could make you seriously ill and, in some cases, can be fatal."