Emergency services across Tyne and Wear highlight the dangers of the water ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day

Four of the region’s blue light services have come together to stress the importance of water safety ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day being marked on Tuesday [25th July].

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Northumbria Police, North East Ambulance Service, and HM Coastguard have joined forces to underline the dangers that walking, playing or swimming in-and-around areas of open water can pose.

World Drowning Prevention Day (July 25th) shines a global spotlight on the necessity of water safety and the hazards the sea, rivers, lakes, ponds and any other sources of open water can present to people.  The international campaign hits home that “…anyone can drown, no-one should.”

Over the past 10-years Tyne and Wear has tragically seen a number of people, young and old, lose their lives after entering the water, and awareness days like World Drowning Prevention Day tries to highlight those perils to try and avoid similar heartbreaks happening again.

Since 2017, 10 lives have been saved using throwlines and throwbags that have been introduced across Tyne and Wear in conjunction with two water safety programmes.

One alongside the RNLI – the Waterside Responder Scheme – and a series of throwline boards that have been installed along the River Tyne and River Wear in association with Newcastle City Council and Sunderland City Council.

Station Manager Jonathan Ramanayake, from the TWFRS Prevention and Education team, said:

“We are fortunate to have such beautiful and celebrated waterways here in Tyne & Wear but under the surface of those water courses can be hidden dangers that can prove fatal.

“With the schools, colleges and universities all breaking up for the Summer holidays it’s crucial for people to realise that water safety is paramount when it comes to saving the lives of loved ones.

“The words being strongly used are ‘respect the water’, and that is exactly how people should be approaching the water as without the proper awareness of what could happen more lives could be lost.  We are working with our partners in the region to try and get these messages across.”

Alun Ross, HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) and Resilience Manager, said:

“Unfortunately, as the weather gets warmer, we can receive more calls to patients who have found themselves in trouble or unwell in open water. This makes our call for more water safety awareness and vigilance even more important on World Drowning Prevention Day.

“We encourage people to be safe when enjoying our waterways and coast responsibly. Even when water may appear calm and safe, it can sometimes be deceptive. People should ensure they call 999 and think carefully before entering the water.”

Sergeant Simon Falconer, of Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit, said:

“It’s really important that people recognise and understand the potential risks when going into the water.

“We have sadly seen all too often the devastating consequences that this can have, so on World Drowning Prevention Day, we want to reiterate our message of vigilance and caution.

“Anybody who sees anyone in difficulty is asked to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, rather than enter the water themselves and risk further problems.

“If you see someone in danger, act fast – keep your eyes on the person and wait for emergency services to arrive. That will allow the Coastguard, our officers and colleagues at the fire service to get to the casualty as quickly and safely as possible.”

Martin Lowe, HM Coastguard Coastal Operations Area Commander, said:

“World Drowning Prevention Day is another reminder that the water can be dangerous and, with an increase in people enjoying the coast over the summer holidays, it’s important for everyone to be aware of the risks.

“We always want you to have a brilliant time on or near water, but if the worst was to happen, make sure you know exactly what to do in an emergency.

“If you spot someone in trouble in the water follow the steps ‘Call, Tell, Throw’.

“One: call for help first. Do not enter the water yourself. Two: tell the person to relax and Float to Live. Three: throw the person something that floats.”

This is all part of the #RespectTheWater campaign that has been developed by the National Water Safety Forum and being supported around the globe during World Drowning Prevention Day (Tuesday 25th July).

For further information please visit the website of the National Water Safety Forum.