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Firefighters support Drowning Prevention Week in move to cut number of water deaths

Anyone thinking of heading to beaches and inland water locations this summer is being urged to remember the impact of Covid-19 on the usual service provided by rescue and lifeguard services.

This is just one of the messages of the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week (June 12-19), which is being supported by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

This is an annual campaign which this year is also focusing on particular messages linked to the covid-19 lockdown, for example reminders about the fact that rescue and lifeguard services may be reduced due to the impact of the pandemic.

So those heading to waterways to enjoy the current warm weather are being asked to please remember to think about the safety of themselves and their families.

The aim of the campaign is to cut the number of people who lose their lives to drowning. Throughout the UK and Ireland, approximately 700 people die from drowning every year.

Lisa Bryan, Prevention, Safeguarding and Partnerships Manager at NFRS, said: “Supporting Drowning Prevention Week each year is an important part of our calendar, as a service which carries out water rescues.

“It is all too easy to get into trouble around water, whether that is through falling into a river after drinking alcohol, getting swept away while swimming in the sea or trying to ‘tombstone’ into open water – without any real idea of the depth of water or the hazards that may lie beneath.

“We know that so many families like to head to the water in the summer, particularly when the weather warms up as it has done recently but we would remind people to please take care, supervise children carefully around water and stay safe while having fun.”

RLSS UK CEO, Robert Gofton said: “This year’s campaign will focus on encouraging everybody to take personal responsibility near water, especially in light of the current challenges facing our emergency and rescue services. Venues and rescue services are doing everything they can to provide a service this summer, but the harsh reality is that in the current climate, despite a big effort, the usual level of service just isn’t feasible.

“Accidental drowning incidents are largely avoidable if the correct choices are made, coupled with the skills and knowledge for personal survival and bystander rescue. These skills are easy to learn and free to access. We are urging individuals and families to take care, take responsibility and learn what to do in an emergency.”

Summer water safety tips:

1) Look out for lifeguards – if you’re looking for a place to cool off always find a lifeguarded swimming site
2) Water at open water and inland sites is often much colder than it looks, cold water can affect your ability to swim and self-rescue
3) Always swim parallel to the shore, that way you’re never too far away from it
4) Currents in the water can be very strong. If you find yourself caught in a riptide – don’t swim against it – you’ll tire yourself out. Swim with the current and call for help
5) Always remember to supervise children in the sea or in paddling/swimming pools, regardless of whether or not they know how to swim

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