Norfolk Fire Service Issue Water Safety Advice

21 June 2018, 15:56 | Updated: 21 June 2018, 16:00

Respect The Water

People in Norfolk are being reminded to stay safe near the water.

Norfolk residents are being urged to stay safe near open water as figures reveal that more people drowned while walking or running in the county than taking part in any water-based activity.

With nearly 200 miles of inland waterways and 90 miles of coastline, Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service is supporting a national campaign by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK) and urging people to Respect the Water.  

Drowning Prevention Week starts today (Friday 15 June) and runs until 25 June. Figures released today show that 44 people drowned in Norfolk over the five years from 2012-2016.*

“With Norfolk having such vast areas of open water, with rivers, broads and the sea, it is vitally important that residents understand water safety. Our fire service is committed to helping to educate our residents and helping to prevent incidents occurring,” said Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service's Garry Collins, Head of Fire Protection and Prevention, said: "We would urge people to pause for thought, before considering entering the water. This applies whether they are seeking spontaneous fun, such as the dangerous craze of tombstoning, or if they are considering helping to rescue someone else. Always pause to consider the danger to yourself and others."

Across the UK and Ireland, more than 700 people drown every year, equivalent to one death every 20 hours. Hundreds more have a near-drowning experience, sometimes suffering life-changing injuries.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service’s Community Safety team works with multiple partners to educate residents of all ages about the risks of water. This work includes a partnership with HM Coastguard for their Crucial Crew courses offered to all Norfolk children aged 10 to 11.

In Norfolk, figures for 2012-2016 show:
- More than two thirds of those that drowned were men.
- Almost half of the drownings (45%) occurred during July and August.
- More than two thirds of drownings were of people aged 40 and over.
- More than a third (36%) of drownings occurred at the coast.
- 18% of drownings occurred in the county’s rivers
- 36% of drownings occurred when people were walking or running
- 18% of drownings were people who were swimming
- In almost a quarter of cases (23%), alcohol was a factor
- 39% of the drownings occurred when people fell into the water