Water safety tips issued for World Drowning Prevention Day

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Members of the public are being urged to follow a number of life-saving tips to stay safe if they get into trouble in the water.

World Drowning Prevention Day is taking place for the second time today (Monday) as the quest continues to reduce the number of lives lost to drowning across the globe.

The UK’s National Water Safety Forum is launching a Respect the Water campaign to mark the event.

As part of the initiative, the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is sharing potentially life-saving information on what to do in case of an emergency in the water.

Tregear Thomas, area manager for service delivery at RBFRS, said: “The message we’re trying to get out to people is to make sure that they should respect the water – to stay safe.

“What can tend to happen with large bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, is that the water just under the surface can be really cold. When you jump into the water, you can enter something called cold water shock.

“If you do ever experience cold water shock, try not to panic, relax and just try to float on the surface of the water. The cold water shock will pass and, when it does, you’ll be able to swim to the bank and get yourself out.”

Further top tips to stay safe in and around open water include:

- If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float to live. Do not panic, float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass. When the cold water shock has passed, you can swim to the edge or call for help.

-If someone else falls into the water, call 999 straight away and ask to speak to the fire service and ambulance.

- Never enter the water to try and save someone, even if you are a strong swimmer. Shout to the person in the water ‘swim to me.'

- The water can be disorientating and this can give them a focus. Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them.

- If you are thinking of entering the water, consider your exit point, and any emergency exits, before you get in.

- Do not jump into open water, often referred to as 'tombstoning', as this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock, even on the warmest day.

- Think twice before swimming in open water such as rivers or lakes. You have no idea what's beneath the surface, there could be unseen currents and reeds, which could pull you under.

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