It’s World Drowning Prevention Day today, with emergency services across the North East using the day to promote water safety and warn the public about the dangers of water itself.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Northumbria Police, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and HM Coastguard have joined together to educate the public about how to avoid dangerous situations in the water.
Read more: Man saved by throwbag after falling into River Wear
World Drowning Prevention Day, marked across the globe, adopts the motto “anyone can drown, no one should” as accidental drowning is still a leading cause of death – especially in the summer months.
Today, bosses and first responders have taken the opportunity to educate and issue lifesaving advice and urge people to stay safe when in bodies of water.
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.”
Only recently, North East residents have been involved in incidents in bodies of wate, with the latest being when a five-year-old boy courageously saved his mum from drowning in the River Wear.
Kimberley Allison and her son Logan, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, were walking along in the sunshine when they stopped to skim some stones.
Kimberly, unfortunately, fell into the water, but young Logan quickly caught the attention of a passerby who called the Washington Community Fire Station who pulled her out of the river in time.
For Sergeant Simon Falconer, of Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit, World Drowning Prevention Day is a time to emphasise this strong word of warning to anyone thinking of going into the water.
He 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.”
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.”
Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus Digital Subscription for as little as £1.50 a week. Click here.
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.”
Since 2017, throwlines have been installed across Tyne and Wear in an effort to boost safety, with fantastic results. So far, ten lives have been saved.
If you see someone in the water – do not get in. Call 999 immediately and shout for help. Your actions could help save a life.