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In an emergency call 999
For general enquiries call 01158388100
Monday - Friday -

Water safety

Did you know that over half of the people who drown had no intention of entering the water?

That's why we would like you to remember to Be Water Aware and stay safe around water.

Cooling off is not cool

In warmer weather, you might think that taking a dip in a river or reservoir is the perfect way to cool down, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, cooling off in open water is not cool.

What might look tranquil and peaceful can be hiding dangers that might take you by surprise, such as strong currents, a cold temperature, and items below the surface.

That's why we are asking you to only enter the water in areas staffed by lifeguards, and whether this is your local swimming pool or the beach, please take care.

What lies beneath the surface?

Although water might look calm, you might be surprised to learn that appearances can be deceptive. Currents are often very strong and can get the better of even the strongest swimmers. This is why you should never ignore warnings signs indicating deep water and strong currents.

As well as currents; plants, reeds, and rocks can also be present below the surface of the water. Though they might sound harmless, rocks can be sharp and reeds can get caught around limbs. Remember, never judge water by its surface.

Coldwater shock

Even on the hottest of days, water can still be extremely cold, and you might not know the effects this can have on your body.

Immediately after jumping into the water, your movements are likely to be impaired due to the cold, and it is likely that you will be gasping due to the shock of the temperature. We cannot emphasise enough that cold water shock can turn what started as fun into a tragedy very quickly.

Frozen waters

In winter, children and pets are particularly at risk when tempted to play on the ice formed on open water, and adults can find themselves at risk in attempting to save them.

Taking a nice walk in cold weather with your family, friends or dogs in tow can be really refreshing, just make sure you know some simple tips on how to stay safe in winter.

  • Don’t wander too near the edge, icy or wet conditions could cause you to slip and fall in.
  • Don't be tempted to test the thickness of the ice; it's easy to slip from the bank and fall through into the freezing water.
  • Make sure your children understand how dangerous it is to play on ice.
  • Adults should set a good example by staying off the ice themselves.
  • Dog owners should ensure they keep their pets on a lead, so they are not at risk of falling in. Don’t go onto ice or into the water to rescue a dog, move to somewhere that the dog will be able to climb out and call them towards you.

If you see someone in the water

Would you know what to do if you saw someone struggling in the water? Would you go in and save them?

Would you assume they can swim and think nothing more of it?

The answer is neither.

NEVER enter the water to save someone as this can put your life at risk. Instead, here is what you should do:

  • Call for the emergency services: You should always call 999 immediately and ask for the fire service and ambulance. If you are by the coast, make sure that you ask for the Coastguard.
  • Location, location, location: We will need as much information on your location as possible to be able to send fire crews to the emergency. You can help us by looking out for landmarks, signs, or bridges, or you can use the What Three Words service to find out your location.
  • Don't leave us hanging: Never hang up as this will only make responding to the emergency more difficult for us. Instead, make sure you stay on the line and our Fire Control team will be able to talk you through what you can do to help. It is always a good idea to let the person in the water know that you have phoned 999 as this may help keep them calm knowing that help is on its way.
  • Encourage the casualty to float: The best piece of advice to give someone in the water is to tell them to try and float. Instinct will naturally tell them to swim, but even the strongest swimmers can be overcome by currents in the water. If there is lifesaving equipment close by, such as a throw line or lifebuoy, follow the instructions given, or ask the emergency call handler about what to do.
  • Fight the urge: We know that it is human nature to want to help in any way you can, but we cannot stress enough that you should NEVER enter the water to save someone else. Even the strongest swimmers can be overcome by cold water shock and currents.

If you are in the water

If you find yourself in the water, we want you to remember the phrase Float To Live.

This is because although instinct will tell you to swim, it is best to put your energy into staying afloat. So if you are in the water, remember the steps below:

  • Fight the urge to swim and try to stay calm.
  • Lie back and keep your airways clear, push your stomach up and extend your limbs, moving your hands and feet to help you float.
  • Try to control your gasping reflex from the cold water shock, and once your breathing is controlled, only then should you call for help.
  • Remember, do as little as possible and float to live.