Swimmers keen to take a dip at Bognor beach to cool off in the heatwave have been told to stay safe. West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is reminding residents of good water safety practices to mark the start of Drowning Prevention Week.
Fire chief Marvin Smith says water safety is important all year round but becomes especially pertinent through the summer months when it turns more tempting to go for a swim and the weather allows for days out close to the water.
Water safety at home, such as emptying paddling pools once used and ensuring fences seal off pools or ponds in the garden, is vital. But it is often poor water safety practices when out enjoying the countryside that pose the most risk.
One person drowns every 20 hours in the UK and hundreds more suffer life changing injuries through near drowning.
And Mr Smith, station commander and WSFRS water safety expert, said: “We’re very lucky in West Sussex to have many beautiful waterways and beaches to enjoy but ensuring you know how to keep yourself and others safe in and around the water is important wherever you are.
“Whether you’re close to home enjoying a scenic spot you know well, or off on holiday to swim in the sun make sure you read available warning signs and take sensible precautions to keep yourself and your family safe.”
Swimming in appropriate locations is still a great way to keep fit and enjoy the summer weather, following these top tips will help to keep swimmers safe:
Look out for lifeguards – only swim in lifeguarded locations. Remember it’s probably colder than it looks – cold water can affect your ability to swim and self-rescue.
Stay close to the shore – always swim parallel to the shore so that you’re never too far away from it. Be mindful of currents – if you get caught by a current swim with it and call for help.
Don’t go alone – others can help if you get into trouble. Water and alcohol don’t mix – don’t go swimming if you’ve been drinking.
Always remember the SAFE code:
Spot: Spot the dangers
Advice: Follow safety signs and advice
Friend: Stay close to friends or family
Emergency: Shout for help and know the emergency number for the country you are in.
Drowning Prevention Week (16-26 June) is a campaign organised by the Royal Life Saving Society UK. By spreading water safety advice far and wide, Drowning Prevention Week aims to teach people how to stay safe in and around water. The campaign also helps to raise valuable funds for RLSS’s vital drowning prevention activity and to support those affected by drowning.