94 water rescues so far in 2022, don’t be the next

Today’s blog is by Steve Quinton, Risk Reduction
Area Manager at Avon Fire & Rescue Service

Today, on Drowning Prevention Day, the National Water Safety Forum launches its first campaign, encouraging everyone to #RespectTheWater. Fire services, councils, and other organisations are coming together to help keep local people and visitors to our area safe.

During the warm summer weather, particularly the recent heatwave, it may be tempting to take a dip in local waters to cool off.

You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the water will cool you down, but what you may not know is that the water in Bristol Harbour, as well as local lakes, ponds or weirs, remains cold enough to cause cold water shock – even on the hottest day of the year.

It can cause you to gasp for breath, inhale water, and cause panic. If you find yourself in trouble in the water, remember: extend your arms and legs to float until the effect of cold water shock passes – you can float to live.

While the water may look appealing, there are many hidden dangers beneath the water’s surface, including rocks, rubbish and even shopping trolleys. The water’s changing currents and tides can pull you in or make it hard to get to safety, even for the strongest swimmers. It’s not as tempting as it looks when you consider the dangers below.

Sadly, 50% of calls that we get involving the water affect people who did not intend to enter the water. So, even if you are relaxing by the water’s edge and don’t plan on going for a dip, make sure to take care and always supervise children near the water.

If you see someone in difficulty in the water, you may think the best thing to do is to jump in and try to save them. But by doing this, you put yourself at a high risk of drowning. If you see someone that needs help in any inland waters, call 999 and ask for the fire service. If you’re on the coast, ask for the coast guard.

Across the country, most drownings involve alcohol and sadly alcohol related drownings affect young men the most. If you fall into the water, or jump in, after drinking, your chances of being able to get out of the water are reduced, as alcohol impairs the bodies movement.

If you’re out drinking, take the safe route home and avoid the water, don’t drink and drown.  

We don’t want to ruin your fun this summer, all we ask is that you go prepared, understand the risks, and know what to do in an emergency.

Remember, if you find yourself in the water: float to live.