Fire service urges Banbury area residents to 'stay safe in the water' over bank holiday weekend

Fire crews will be out and about in Northamptonshire as the bank holiday weekend approaches - promoting water safety as lockdown rules continue to relax.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 10:33 am
Updated Friday, 30th April 2021, 10:34 am

Alongside the restrictions being eased, the warmer weather is likely to lead to more people heading to water beauty spots in the county. This week also marks the National Fire Chief Council’s ‘Be Water Aware Week’, which is aimed at highlighting how people can stay safe in and around the water.

If the fire service receives a 999 call reporting someone is in distress in the water, a dedicated water rescue team will be deployed to the scene.

Daniel Ewen, a crew manager at Wellingborough Fire Station, said: “Our shouts for water rescues do increase in the summer. A lot of people see beauty spots, lakes and rivers as somewhere to go and cool down and have a bit of fun.

Fire service urges Banbury area residents to 'stay safe in the water' over bank holiday weekend (Image from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service)

“But they don’t necessarily recognise the dangers such as moving water, obstructions and things in the water that could trap them.

“It might be 15 or 16 degrees outside, but the water potentially could only be one to two degrees which could put someone into shock if they go into the water.”

If you fall into cold water yourself, you can tire if you try to swim out and fight against the body shock. Don’t panic. Try and float on your back making a star shape, this could give you time for your breathing and your heart rate to calm down, and you may be able to manoeuvre to the side of the bank once the shock has passed.

Should you see either another person or an animal struggling in the water, you should not enter the water and try to rescue them yourself. The safest way to rescue people from the water is to use throw lines or throw some sort of flotation device such as an inflatable ball or a large water bottle. You should immediately call 999 and ask for the fire service.

Download the what3words app on your mobile phone, as the app makes it easy to share a specific location with emergency services by giving every three-metre square of the world a unique combination of three words.

Once you have called 999, our water rescue teams will attend the scene and work out the best way of conducting a rescue – this could be via a tethered swim with a rescuer attached to a line on the bank; using the yellow sled which allows the team to paddle out to the person in danger; or whether to use the motorised boat which allows four people to be deployed at quick speed.

Jo Gouldson, a community safety officer, added: “A lot of people, particularly younger people, might be jumping into rivers during the warm weather. We obviously think you should not be doing that, but if you’re going to go in assess whether you can get back out safely or not.

“Most riverside banks are quite steep and there are no shiny stairs to get you back out like there are at the swimming pool. You should also look at the water current before doing anything like this.”

For more water safety tips, head to www.northantsfire.gov.uk and visit the ‘outdoor safety’ section.