London Fire Brigade

Brigade issues open water warning after 13 London water fatalities in last three years

22 April 2016

Fire chiefs are warning people to be more 'water aware' as new figures reveal that there have been 13 water related fatalities in London in the last three years.

In the summer months, the Brigade attends at least one water related incident a week and crews carry out an average of 30 water rescues every year. 

In London, over the last three years, firefighters have attended 128 incidents involving people in water and carried out 92 rescues. 

The figures have been released to mark Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week a national campaign to highlight the importance of staying safe near water.

'Raising awareness of potential risks'

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Richard Mills, said: "It's not about stopping people enjoying leisure activities in and around the water but about raising awareness of potential risks and encouraging them to stay safe.

"If someone falls into deep water the first thing is to call for help straightaway. 

"Call 999 and ask for the fire service and ambulance. When you have made this call, shout for help from anyone who might be close by.

"Never enter the water to try and save someone. This can add to the problem even if you are a strong swimmer. 

"If there's no lifesaving equipment, look around for something to reach out to them such as a scarf or a long stick. 

"Lie on the ground so your body is safely on the edge to avoid being pulled in. 

"If you do manage to get them out of the water, always seek medical attention – if water has entered the lungs then it can cause death up to 48 hours after the incident."



As well as highlighting water safety, the week is a chance to highlight the groups who are most at risk.

National figures show 338 people died from accidental drowning across the UK last year and Chief Fire Officer Association (CFOA) figures show:

  • A quarter of drowning victims had alcohol in their system.
  • Runners and walkers are the largest at risk group accounting for 138 of fatalities last year.
  • Twice as many people die angling than sailing.