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Fight your instincts not the water

Published: 27 June 2019

Water is the leading cause of accidental death

A life is lost in water every 15 hours in the UK, which means drowning is now the UK's leading cause of accidental deaths and a bigger cause of death in Surrey than accidental house fires.

Working in partnership, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) want to make everyone in Surrey aware of water safety this summer to ensure more lives are not at risk.

Float don't fight

Their main advice to people is to 'fight your instincts, not the water'. If you were to fall into cold water such as a river or lake, your natural instinct is to fight the water and swim hard, but SFRS and the RNLI promote doing as little as possible and to allow yourself to float for 60-90 seconds. This will allow you to control your breathing and either call for help, or swim to safety.

Top five tips to be safe around water

  • If you are going to a river or lake on your own, let someone know where you are going and when you are coming back.
  • Take any warning or safety signs seriously – they are there for a reason.
  • Look out for trip or slip hazards around water and stick to proper pathways.
  • River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and could give way, so stay a safe distance from the edge.
  • Raise the alarm by calling 999 if you see someone in trouble in water.

Find out more about water safety and the Respect the Water campaign on the Surrey County Council Staying Safe in Surrey's Rivers and Lakes page.

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