Safest People, Safest Places

Water safety week

be water aware

Runners and walkers are consistently the group most at risk of accidental drowning. 

Safety advice for walkers and runners

  • Make sure your walk or run is suitable for your fitness level
  • Consider joining a running or walking group
  • Be aware and take notice of any warning signs
  • When running or walking next to water, stay clear of the edges
  • River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength, know how to use it and who to call in an emergency
  • Look out for trip or slip hazards - pay attention to your footing
  • Stick to proper pathways
  • Don't walk or run next to water if levels are high
  • Make sure you know exactly where you are - consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map
  • Don't assume just because you have walked or run a route many times before it is still safe.
  • Avoid walking or running near water in the dark

Resources/Useful Links:

Walking for Health

Try getting in touch with your local group - these walks are very often well attended and may also benefit from additional safety messages with FRS deliver.

The National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland

If you are near a property or coast ( The NT in England, Wales and NI manage 10% of the coast) get in touch and see if their walking groups will take some information. They have many volunteers helping them who may be useful in hearing this information for themselves as well as helping spread the message.

Safety advice for dog walkers

  • Avoid throwing sticks or balls near water for dogs - they will go after it if they think you want it back even if you've thrown it too far or into dangerous water
  • Never enter the water to try and save a dog - the dog usually manages to scramble out
  • Even dogs that like swimming can usually only swim for short bursts - keep and eye of your dog and don't let it enter the water if it's older or tired
  • If your dog loves the water keep it on a lead and make sure you have control to prevent it jumping into hazardous or unsafe areas
  • Remember the wet riverbanks, steep edges or jagged rocks can make it hard for a dog to scramble out and be a slip risk for owners
  • Don't lean into water and try and lift your dog out - you can topple in
  • Dogs can have cold water shock too
  • If your dog has struggled in the water it may have inhaled water and should see a vet as dogs can drown after the event if water has entered the lungs

Safety advice for anglers

  • Check forecast and weather conditions before you go
  • Make sure you let someone know where you are going to fish
  • Be careful if you are wading in water- waders can fill with a water making it hard to move and currents can be strong and pull you over
  • Make sure you know exactly where you are - consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map
  • Give them an idea of when you are likely to return
  • Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength, know how to use it and who to call in an emergency (999 or dial 112 if your signal is weak - this connects you to ta anotehr stronger network for the purpse of making an emergency call)
  • Double check your fishing spot. Is it safe? For example, riverbanks can erode and just because it was safe one day doesn’t mean it still is
  • Always dress appropriately, sturdy footwear, sun hat in hot weather, warm layers in cold
  • Coastal and sea fishing is particularly high risk
  • Make sure you know your spot is safe and you won’t get cut off by the tide
  • Expert evidence suggests that many of these lives would have been saved if the casualty had been wearing a lifejacket - Wear a lifejacket - even if you are a strong swimmer
  • Don't drink alcohol whilst fishing

What to do if someone falls into deep water

The first thing to do is call for help - straightaway. Call 999, if you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for fire service and ambulance.
The emergency services will need to know where you are. Accurate information can save precious minutes. If you have a smart phone and have location
services or map tool enabled, this can help. If not look around for any landmarks or signs – for example bridges will often have numbers on them which can
identify their location.
Don’t hang up – stay on the line but try and continue to help the person if appropriate.
When you have made this call shout for help from anyone who might be close by.

Human nature says you are likely to want to attempt to help while rescue services are on their way.

Never ever enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold
water shock which will leave you unable to help even if you are a strong swimmer.

Can the person help themselves? Shout to them ‘Swim to me’. The water can be disorientating. This can give them a focus. Keep any instructions short clear
and loud. Don’t shout instructions using different words each time.

Look around for any lifesaving equipment. Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them. If they are attached to a rope
make sure you have secured or are holding the end of the rope so you can pull them in.

If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use. There may be something that can help them stay afloat - even an item such as a ball can help.
You could attempt to reach out to them. Clothes such as scarves can be used to try and reach or a long stick. If you do this lie on the ground so your entire
body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water– you may get pulled in
Be mindful that if the water is cold the person may struggle to grasp an object or hold on when being pulled in.

If you manage to get the person out of the water they will always need medical attention.

Even if they seem fine drowning can occur at a later stage if water has already entered the lungs. It can cause death up to 48 hours after the near drowning

If the person is unconscious you will need to check they are breathing. If they are not breathing they need 5 rescue breathes and then CPR (30 Chest
compressions followed by 2 rescue breathes). Continue until help arrives
If the person is unconscious but breathing put them in the recovery position with their head lower than their body.
If they are conscious try and keep them warm. If you can remove wet clothes and give them something dry to put on as they are at risk of hypothermia.

Resources/Useful Links:

Royal National Lifeboat Instiution (RNLI)
Their 'Respect the Water' campaign started in 2014 and is continuing. Take some time to look at their website, it obviously targeted at coastal fishing but much of the safety advice can be used for inland fishing too

British Sea Fishing

Their website has good information about the different types of coastal fishing and safety advice some of which can also be applied to inland fishing

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