Water safety (Surrey Fire and Rescue)

Staying safe in Surrey's rivers and lakes

Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in the UK. Drownings can happen quickly with most people having no intention of entering the water. 40% of people who accidentally drowned in 2022 had no intention of entering the water. Never enter the water and attempt to rescue someone yourself. In Surrey we have many different bodies of water, large lakes and the river Thames. They should all be treated with respect - water can kill.

What to do in an emergency

  • Call 999 immediately and ask for help. If you are inland ask for the fire service, if you are at the coast ask for the coastguard
  • Give an accurate location as possible
  • Keep your eye on the person in the water, or where they last were
  • Do not enter the water and attempt to rescue someone, and do not get too close to the waters' edge
  • Shout to the person in the water, and encourage them to float on their back and breath normally
  • Look for lifesaving equipment such as throwlines, floats or rings to throw to the person in the water
  • If the person manages to get out of the water, they will need medical attention, even if they seem okay

Be aware of the risks

  • Cold water shock kills. The RNLI encourage people to "float to live", fight the instinct to thrash and give your body a chance to breath.
  • Take notice and obey of warning and safety signs
  • Stick to proper footpaths, riverbanks and cliff edges can be unstable
  • Water and alcohol/drugs do not mix. Plan your route home away from water. 26% of people who accidentally drowned in 2022 had alcohol and/or drugs in their system
  • Going out on your own? Let someone know where you are going and when you aim to return
  • Never enter the water to rescue your dog, who will rescue you? Most dogs manage to scramble out - some owners are not so lucky
  • Never enter the water if you don't know how deep the water is, or how fast the current is

Enjoy water safely

  • If you are taking part in outdoor water activities, do so in a designated area and find out about local clubs
  • Weather can affect the water so check forecasts and tides before you go out
  • Wear a lifejacket and make sure it's right for you and the activity
  • Keep in touch - have your mobile phone with you, tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back
  • Children should always be supervised by an adult

What we do

Firefighters with specialist water rescue training and equipment can rescue people from water, mud and ice. Some of our fire stations carry specialist equipment, and work closely with other water rescue agencies such as the RNLI and Surrey Search and Rescue.

Some crews are also trained to attend major flooding incidents both locally and nationally as part of a multi-agency response.

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