Firefighters promote water safety and drowning prevention

CDrowning prevention weekheshire Fire and Rescue Service is issuing important water safety advice in support of the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign.

The targeted campaign is running until 5 May 2019, aiming to highlight the risk of accidental drowning and Cheshire firefighters are out in their communities giving safety information and engaging with residents to emphasise the importance of staying safe in and around water.

255 people accidentally drowned in the UK in 2017. National statistics suggest half of these accidental drownings happened when people did not even intend to go in the water. Activities such as running, walking, fishing and cycling near water can put you at risk of drowning.

NFCC's Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Lead, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said: "Most people would be shocked to hear that those people who drowned just happened to be taking part in everyday activities near water, like going for a run or walk.

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 and preventable deaths."

The Service is encouraging people to follow the NFCC’s water safety advice: 

  • Never go swimming alone

  • If you are going for a walk or run near water stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge. 

  • If you've had alcohol don't enter the water, avoid walking alone and avoid routes near water

  • Never enter the water to try and help a person or animal - always call 999 and use any water rescue equipment if it is available

  • If you are spending time near water - whether at home or abroad make sure you are familiar with local safety information and children are fully supervised

  • Know your limits - the cold can kill

The fire service has successfully reduced the number of fire deaths by focusing on prevention work and the same principle is applied to tackling drowning. Response is not enough - drownings must be prevented.

Nick Evans, Head of Prevention at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“We want people to enjoy spending time around water, but we want them to do it safely. Firefighters and other emergency services risk their own safety to rescue people who get into difficulties on our waterways, so it’s important that people take extra care and keep everyone safe.”


1. In Cheshire, over the last five fiscal years, there has been a total of 60 incidents where a person has needed rescuing from water.

This most recent fiscal year (2018-19) saw the highest number of recorded rescues during this five year period, with 21 rescues. Three of the 21 rescues attended was found to be a fatality:

  • On 7 May 2018 a man drowned in the River Weaver at Nantwich

  • On 4 August 2018 a teenage girl drowned in a lake near Ditton, Widnes

  • On 17 January 2019 a man drowned in the Manchester Ship Canal, at the Thelwall Viaduct.

2. The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is a body made up of all fire chiefs across the UK. The council, through Coordination Committees, will lead key national pieces of work.

3. Fatality statistics from the National Water Safety Forum's Water Incident Database (WAID) and FOI FCO Ref 1149-18

4. The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is the UK body which represents UK organisations with an interest in water safety and is committed to reducing drowning fatalities.

Date published: Thu, 02 May 2019 12:34:25 GMT

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