Be Water Aware Safety Week 2022

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign. The week-long campaign runs from 25th April – 1st May 2022 and is a national campaign which aims to highlight the risk of accidental drowning.  

The campaign is warning people of the risk of accidentally drowning when in and around water. Nearly 50 percent of people who accidentally drowned in 2020 had no intention of entering the water. Many others underestimate the risk of jumping into cold water. In both instances the effects of cold-water shock and not knowing how to self-rescue can cause even the strongest swimmers to drown.

Richard Davies, Water Safety Manager for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said:

"It is shocking to hear that the people who drowned had no intention of going into the water and just happened to be taking part in everyday activities near water, like going for a run or walk.  It is important to be aware of the risks and be prepared in case you do accidently end up in the water. By highlighting this issue and providing some simple safety messages we hope to reduce the number of these needless and preventable deaths.”

Cold water shock is an ever-present danger associated with outdoor swimming as the temperatures of open water, such as rivers and lakes, can be much colder than anticipated, especially in fast flowing sections.  Cold water removes heat from the body 32 times faster than cold air causing cold shock – gasping, cramps, and inhalation of water, heart attack, stroke and rapid drowning.

Even on a warm day the temperature in open water can remain very cold, causing a physical reaction which can make it difficult to control breathing, cause panic and make it difficult to swim. If you do find yourself in difficulty in the water, don’t panic, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back in the water and float on your back until the effects of cold-water shock pass. Then you can call for help or swim to safety.

In 2020/21 a total of 78 calls were received in relation to inland waterway or river incidents, which resulted in 42 people being rescued by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel.

Key water safety 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, if the surface is slippery or in bad weather.
  • If you've had alcohol don't enter the water, avoid walking alone near water and avoid routes near water.
  • Never enter the water to try and 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.

The Fire and Rescue 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.

If someone is in trouble in water, call 999. At the coast ask for the coastguard. If you are inland, ask for the fire service. You should never enter the water to attempt a rescue.

For more safety messages, information, advice, or guidance during Water Safety week please check out our Social Media channels and visit our website www.mawwfire.gov.uk