A safety campaign supported by Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue is focusing on some of the hazards people face when they are out and about – often away from home just to enjoy themselves.

The campaign aims to raise awareness with the following groups:

  • Runners and Walkers – This group has the highest incidence of accidental drowning year on year in the UK. In 2017 this group accounted for about 42 per cent of people who accidentally drowned (106 people);
  • People on a night out – 100 people drowned in 2017 with alcohol and/or drugs in their system. These fatalities do fall under the runners and walkers category. The focus is on young adults, especially students;
  • Away From Home – Anecdotally the risks of drowning are higher when people are less familiar with the area. Spain also has a high incidence of tourists drowning, so people are being encouraged to take water safe information and behaviour with them wherever they are.

The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign runs from April 29 to May 5 and aims to highlight the risk of accidental drowning.

Half of accidental drownings happened in 2017 when people didn’t even intend to go in the water. Activities such as running, walking, fishing and cycling near water can put you at risk of drowning.

In 2017:

  • 255 people accidentally drowned in the UK;
  • Around 50 per cent of these people just happened to be near water;
  • About 85 per cent of these fatalities were male;
  • In addition 75 UK nationals, mainly tourists, drowned whilst abroad in 2017.

NFCC’s Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Lead, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said: “Most people would be shocked to hear that those people who drowned just happened to be taking part in everyday activities near water, such as going for a run or walk.

“They are unaware of the risks and are totally unprepared for the scenario of ending up in the water. By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them we hope to reduce the number of these needless and preventable deaths.”

Fire and Rescue Service advice:

  • If you are going for a walk or run near water, stick to proper pathways and stay clear of the water’s edge;
  • Make sure conditions are safe, avoid walking or running near water in the dark, slippery or in bad weather;
  • If you’ve had alcohol don’t enter the water, avoid walking alone and avoid routes near water;
  • Never enter the water to try to help a person or animal – always call 999 and use any water rescue equipment if it is available;
  • If you are spending time near water – whether at home or abroad – make sure you are familiar with local safety information and children are fully supervised.

Chief Fire Officer Whittaker, said: “The fire service has successfully reduced the number of fire deaths by focusing on prevention work and now we must apply the same principle to tackling drowning. Response is not enough – we must prevent drownings.”