London Fire Brigade

Brigade issues water warning after 13 people drown

24 April 2017

Fire chiefs are warning walkers, joggers and anglers to take extra care near canals, rivers and along the Thames as statistics show there have been 13 water related fatalities in London in the last three years. Nearly half of those who drowned in the UK were people exercising, angling or just walking alongside the water.

 

Figures released to mark Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week [24-30 April 2017] show London has the fourth highest drowning rate in the UK. We rescue around three people every month from water. We strongly support the national campaign by the National Fire Chiefs Council to highlight the importance of staying safe near water.

Statistics also show:

  • Runners and walkers – the largest ‘at risk’ group who accidently drowned were running or walking near water 
  • Students and young adult drinkers – 35% of these drowning victims had alcohol in their system. 
  • Older walkers – this group may have underlying health conditions and have an increased risk of tripping or falling 
  • Dog walkers – fire rescue services report people attempting animal rescues often end up needing to be rescued themselves 
  • Anglers – the smallest of the target groups but nearly twice as many people die fishing as they do sailing

'The first thing to do is to call for help straightaway'

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Richard Mills, said: "From a distracted jogger tripping over, to dog walkers chasing after their pet, Londoners need to realise how important it is to take care near water. 

"London has a network of canal and river paths enjoyed by thousands of people every day but it’s important to know how to stay safe. People also often get trapped in mud by the waterside that doesn’t look too deep until it’s too late.

"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. Don’t hang up – stay on the line but try and continue to help the person if appropriate. 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."

National figures show on average 400 people drown each year in the UK.