Be water aware this Easter

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be water aware this easter

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) are joining forces with their local partners to help keep people safe this spring. With the arrival of the Easter holidays and the warmer spring weather, many people are likely to be out with family and friends at waterside locations within County Durham and Darlington.  

While keen for everyone to enjoy themselves, CDDFRS, Durham County Council (DCC) and Darlington Borough Council (DBC) would like to make everyone aware of the dangers when near the water this Easter holiday period, and ahead of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) ‘Be water aware’ week, (25th April – 1st May.) 

Drowning is amongst the leading causes of accidental death in the UK. We want to make people safer by making them aware of the risks and dangers when around water, what to do if they fall into water and how to help someone who is in trouble in water.   

Fiona Gosling who sadly lost her son Cameron Gosling, aged 14, after he jumped into the River Wear near Bishop Auckland, on July 5th, 2015 has said: “We understand the desire of people wanting to go into open water when the weather is warm but please remember water does not discriminate and accidents can and do happen.  

“As a family we live this nightmare every day, so we urge people to please THINK, PREPARE, BE WATER AWARE!” 

If someone falls into deep water: 

  • Call 999 straight away, ask for the fire service and explain where you are. If you are unsure of the location, look for landmarks or signs – bridges may be able to identify your location. Or if you have a phone check maps or use the ‘what3words’ app. 
  • Don’t hang up, stay on the line but try to continue to help the person if you can. 
  • Once you’ve made the call, shout for help from anyone who might be close by. 
  • Don’t enter the water yourself to try to save someone. You are likely to go into shock if you go into cold water which will leave you unable to help, even if you are a strong swimmer. 
  • Look around for any lifesaving equipment there might be such as lifebelts or throw bags. If they are attached to a rope, make sure you hold or secure the end so you can pull the person in. If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use – even a ball can help. 
  • If you manage to get the person out of the water, they will always need medical attention – even if they seem fine. They may have hypothermia or water in the lungs. 

If you fall in the water: 

  • Resist the urge to thrash around and try to float on your back. Only once you are floating call for help or try to steer with your arms towards shore. 

The advice provided during the campaign week will help people prepare for spending time in and around water in the safest way possible.  

NFCC's Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Lead, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said: "We want people to enjoy spending time in and around water safely. We want to encourage people to be water aware by understanding the risks, following advice, and being prepared in the event of an incident.” 

Sarah Litt, Community Safety Team Leader at CDDFRS added: “We understand that going into open water can be tempting, especially when it is warm and sunny, but we are encouraging all members of the public not to take risks. Although the water looks inviting from the surface, it is still cold enough to induce Cold Water Shock, not to mention the dangers lurking beneath that you cannot see from the surface.  

“Many of our crews have already been out and about attending local water risk area sites in our station area to give advice to the public whilst also carrying out water rescue safety training.” 

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, deputy leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “We’re working closely with the fire and rescue service, police and other partners as part of the Open Water Safety Group to raise awareness of the dangers and promote water safety. 

“The ‘Be water aware’ week is a great opportunity to remind people of the dangers and what they can do to keep themselves, and others safe. As we look forward to the warmer weather, and further easing of lockdown restrictions, it’s even more important that we all do what we can to ensure everyone can enjoy the outdoors safely.” 

Cllr John Shuttleworth, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “Rivers, lakes and reservoirs may seem very appealing as the weather starts to improve, but we would strongly encourage everyone to ‘Be Water Aware’ and know just how dangerous they can be whatever the time of year. 

“Many people die in open water every year and the risks are many: from strong currents which can sweep you away from safety, to cold water shock which can cause your heart to stop if you jump in without acclimatising. Jumping into water also puts you at risk of hitting underwater obstacles which might not be visible from the surface – potentially a cause of serious injury.” 

To read more about Fiona’s story https://www.durham.gov.uk/dyingtobecool