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Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is joining other fire services across the UK and asking people to stay safe when spending time in and around water as the weather begins to improve.

JUMPING COLD WATER AWAREThe call comes as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Be Water Aware campaign which runs from 25th April – 1st May 2022.

The campaign is warning people of the risk of accidentally drowning when in and around water. Nearly 50 percent of people who accidentally drowned in 2020 had no intention of entering the water. Many others underestimate the risk of jumping into cold water. In both instances the effects of cold water shock and not knowing how to self rescue can cause even the strongest swimmers to drown.

Even on a warm day the temperature in open water can remain very cold, causing a physical reaction which can make it difficult to control breathing, cause panic and make it difficult to swim. If you do find yourself in difficulty in the water, don’t panic, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back in the water and float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass. Then you can call for help or swim to safety. If someone is in trouble in water, call 999. At the coast ask for the coastguard. If you are inland, ask for the fire service. You should never enter the water to attempt a rescue.

Dawn Whittaker, NFCC’s lead for drowning prevention said “Most people would be shocked to hear that in 2020, 254 lives were lost simply because people were spending time in and around water. These deaths are preventable, so we ask everyone to be water aware.”

She added “NFCC work closely with fire services and partners to encourage people to be safe around water and to highlight the risk of accidental drowning. As the weather improves fire services across the country, along with our colleagues in HM Coastguard and RNLI, can be faced with huge numbers of calls to help people in trouble in water. By raising awareness now, we hope to keep people safe and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in water as summer approaches.”

“Prevention Delivery Manager Ian Hopkins said “In 2021 Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service rescued 51 people from water and sadly 3 of those resulted in accidental death. Accidental drownings are preventable which is why we are asking the public to stay safe and look out #BeWaterAware for information on enjoying activities in and around water, in the safest way possible.”

“We also have some fun educational activities for children on our website which include a competition for someone to win a VIP trip to one of our fire stations. To get involved, visit https://www.dwfire.org.uk/education/be-water-aware/ .”

For more water safety advice visit our website https://www.dwfire.org.uk/safety/safety-outdoors/water-safety/