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Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) is urging people to stay safe in and around water to reduce the risk of accidental drownings.

Fire engineThe National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign runs from 22 to 28 April and aims to raise awareness of the risk of accidental drowning as well as provide safety advice ahead of the warmer months.

In 2022, 266 lives were lost due to accidental drowning in the UK and 40 per cent of those had no intention of entering the water.

Slips, trips and falls are often the cause of these accidents and many people also underestimate the dangers of jumping into water or taking a dip to cool off, especially those with limited experience of outdoor swimming.

Unseen hazards and cold water shock can mean even strong swimmers can get into trouble.

Simple tips to stay safe include:

  • Keep to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge
  • Don’t enter the water after drinking alcohol
  • Walk a safe route home after drinking, with friends and away from water
  • Cold water shock can kill, walk into the water rather than jump in to reduce the risk

If someone is in trouble in the water, you can help by staying calm, staying on land and remember ‘Call, Tell, Throw’:

  • Call 999 for the emergency services
  • Tell the struggling person to float on their back
  • Throw them something that floats

Mark Preece, Chief Fire Officer at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “These deaths are preventable, so we are urging everyone to Be Water Aware so they can spend time in and around water safely. We want to encourage people to make safe choices around water and to know what to do in an emergency to reduce the risk of drowning.

“You can help prevent the devastating impact these deaths have on families and communities by following the safety advice.”

For more information and advice on the Be Water Aware campajgn, please visit https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/glosfire/your-safety/safety-outdoors/water-safety/ and look out for #BeWaterAware on social media.