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Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service


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Be water aware 

Drowning is amongst the leading causes of accidental death in the UK. We want to make people safer by making them aware of the risks and dangers when around water, what to do if they fall into water and how to help someone who is in trouble in water.


Dangers - open water

  • The water may look calm on the surface, but there can be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under the water. 

  • The water may feel warm on the surface, but just a few feet below the surface it can be icy cold.  The cold water can affect stamina and strength of swimmers. 


What to do if someone falls into deep water 


If you spot someone in trouble in the water: 


  • Call 999 to inform Northumberland and Rescue Service.  If you don't have a phone shout for help - but do not enter the water. 

  • Encourage the person in the water to try and float on their back - and if there is rescue equipment nearby throw it to them. 

Never ever enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem.  If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock which will leave you unable to help even if you are a strong swimmer. 

What to do if YOU fall into deep water - FLOAT 

  • If you fall into deep water, you should lie on your back and FLOAT 

  • Fight the instinct to panic or swim - it's better to just FLOAT. 

  • Lie back and keep your airways clear, push your stomach up and extend your limbs moving hands and feet to help you FLOAT. 

  • Try to take and control the effects of cold water shock such as the gasping reflex. Once your breathing is controlled call for help and if possible try making your way towards safety 

Key safety tips for staying safe near water 

  • Alcohol and swimming do not mix - stay out of the water if you have been drinking. 

  • Never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds. 

  • Never interfere with lifesaving equipment - you might need it yourself. 

  • Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.   


Resources and a toolkit can be found on the Respect the Water website. 

Respect The Water website

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