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Fire and rescue crews back 'Be Water Aware' campaign

Crews from the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service are urging people to ‘Be Water Aware’ as part of a national campaign aimed at drowning prevention.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is running its Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week until May 2.

The initiative is warning people not to become complacent around open water, particularly as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease across the country.

Crews from Maidenhead, Windsor and Slough fire stations have been visiting ‘areas of concern’ to put up posters and educate members of the public about the dangers of going in the water.

These include Boulters Lock, the Sounding Arch in Maidenhead and Hurley Riverside Park.

Warning posters at Boulters Lock

Robin Jordan, watch based manager at Maidenhead Fire Station, said: “We just want to highlight to people about the dangers of water, you don’t know what’s beneath the water, you don’t know the current underneath and you can catch diseases.

“If you go in with your clothes on it can be difficult to swim, even if you’re a strong swimmer.”

Figures from the NFCC said 223 people died in 2019 from accidental drownings in the UK and 44 per cent of those had no intention of going in the water.

It has issued the following tips to keep people safe around water:

  • Never swim alone in case you need help
  • Don’t drink alcohol when taking part in water-related activities
  • Avoid walking routes near water if you have been drinking alcohol
  • Don’t dive or jump straight into water – this can lead to potentially fatal cold water shock even on warm days
  • Actively supervise children around water – drowning can happen quickly and silently
  • If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, don’t panic, extend your arms and legs out and float on your back by creating a star shape with your body until the effects of cold water shock pass.
  • Never enter the water to try and rescue someone, call 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service if inland and the Coastguard if you are at the coast.

Mr Jordan added: “Coronavirus restrictions are being lifted so people are going out and enjoying themselves more but we just want people to be aware of the hazards with the water.”

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