Water safety (Surrey Fire and Rescue)

Staying safe in Surrey's rivers and lakes

Every year in the UK, around 400 people die from drowning as a result of an accident in or around water, with thousands more suffering severe and often life-changing injuries.

Many of these accidents are as a result of simple everyday mistakes, such as a trip or fall into water, or misjudgements such as underestimating the effect that swimming in cold open water can have.

Drowning is now a bigger cause of death in Surrey than accidental house fires. Since 2010, 34 people have drowned in Surrey's rivers and lakes, and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has been called to more than 250 incidents.
Please enjoy the water but stay safe.

Spot the dangers

  • Very cold temperatures all year round
  • Hidden currents and quick moving water is difficult to swim in
  • Deep unknown water might mean you will not be able to touch the bottom
  • Help might be difficult if there are no lifeguards around
  • Dirty water can make you ill
  • Slippery and steep banks can make it difficult for you to get out
  • Rubbish like shopping trolleys and broken glass can trap you under the water.

How to enjoy water safely

  • Get trained to take part in water activities
  • 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
  • Don't drink and swim and don't drink and play on water - water can kill
  • Children should always be with an adult, not by themselves. An adult can point out dangers or help if somebody gets in trouble.

What to do in an emergency

  • Keep calm and always think before you act
  • Shout for help
  • Dial 999 and ask for the fire and ambulance services
  • Reach the person using a stick, pole or piece of clothing to pull them to the water's edge. Always lie down when you do this.
  • Row a boat if you can but don't try to pull the person on board, they might panic and capsize the boat. Tell them to hold onto the side.
  • First aid must be given and make sure the person is warm.

What we do

Firefighters with specialist swift water rescue skills and equipment, rescue people from water, mud and ice. Crews can transport people and equipment to islands on the River Thames.

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

More information

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service supports the The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Respect the Water campaign which aims to raise awareness of the potential dangers of being on or near the water. Visit RNLI's Respect the water website for information on the effects of cold water shock and floating techniques.