As the weather begins to improve, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) is urging people to stay safe when spending time in and around water.
The call comes as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) ‘Be Water Aware’ campaign which runs from 24 to 30 April 2023.
The campaign is warning people of the risk of accidentally drowning when in or around water, as there were 277 deaths in the UK from accidental drowning in 2021 in inland and coastal locations.
Forty per cent of people who lost their lives had no intention of entering the water, with slips, trips and falls being the main cause.
Many others underestimate the risk of jumping into the water where unseen hazards and cold water can harm even the strongest swimmers.
Even on a warm day the temperature in open water can remain very cold, causing cold water shock which makes it difficult to swim. If you do find yourself in difficulty, you are urged not to panic, lean back in the water and spread your arms and legs to stay afloat. When the effects of cold water shock have passed, call out for help or swim to safety.
If someone is in trouble in the water, call 999, at the coast ask for the coastguard, and if you are inland ask for the fire service.
Mark Preece, Chief Fire Officer, said: “Most people would be shocked to hear the number of lives lost simply because people were spending time in and around water. These deaths are preventable, so we ask everyone to be water aware.
“We want people to be safe when outdoors so please take great care when around water and be aware of the risk of accidental drowning.”
Cllr Dave Norman, the cabinet member with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As the weather improves, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service can be faced with a large number of calls to help people in trouble in the water. By raising awareness now, we hope to keep people safe and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in water as summer approaches.”