Be Water Aware this spring

West Sussex coastline

With warmer weather now here West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is urging everyone paying a visit to the county’s coastline or rivers to be water aware.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the country with 223 people accidentally drowning in the UK in 2019. Almost half of these people (44%) just happened to be near water and had no intention of going into the water.

As lockdown restrictions ease, and families begin to spend more time with each other outdoors, it is expected that some of the county’s popular beaches and waterways will once again start to draw in lots of visitors.

Marvin Smith is West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s National Resilience Flood Rescue Tactical Advisor. He said: “We all know that when the weather is nice our beaches, rivers and lakes become very busy with people looking to relax by the water.

“We don’t want to discourage people from enjoying our beautiful coastline, we want to encourage them to be water aware by understanding the risks, and knowing what to do in the event of an emergency.

“By sharing some safety tips below, we hope to reduce the number of needless and preventable deaths that occur each year along the country’s coastline and waterways.”

The warning comes as the fire service prepares to support the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign, which begins on Monday. The NFCC is a member of the National Water Safety Forum and is committed to the National Drowning Prevention Strategy which aims to cut water-related deaths by 50 per cent by 2026.

If you are heading to the water this weekend, please follow these simple steps:

  • 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 are spending time near water make sure you are familiar with local safety information and children are fully supervised.
  • If you’ve had alcohol don’t enter the water.
  • Be aware of rip tides and currents – they can drag you out to sea and are almost impossible to swim against.
  • 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.

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