How to stay safe in the water around Darlington this summer

Broken Scar <i>(Image: NORTHERN ECHO)</i>
Broken Scar (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Families across the country will be rushing to the seaside to enjoy the sun this bank holiday weekend.

For those looking for guidance about how to stay safe this summer, there has been advice issued by the Royal Life Saving Society UK.

On average, 304 UK citizens lose their lives each year from accidental drowning.

Darlington and County Durham's Open Water Safety Groups are again backing Drowning Prevention Week - from June 15 to June 22.

The annual campaign, now in its eleventh year, is the biggest campaign of the year for the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and aims to raise awareness of water safety ahead of the summer holidays, a time when many people head outdoors and the risk of accidental drowning increases significantly.

Here are some simple rules to follow:

  • Never let young children go near water without an adult who can point out dangers or help if someone gets into trouble.

  • Never jump in or suddenly immerse yourself in cold water as the shock could kill you.

  • Look out for warning signs and follow their instructions.

  • Stay together - never swim alone, always go with friends or family.

  • Don’t drink alcohol if you are taking part in water activities or walking near water.

  • If you fall in the water, don’t panic – extend your arms and legs to float and shout for help.

  • Learn what do if you see someone in difficulty: Don’t get into the water to try to rescue them. Shout for help, call 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service and if possible, throw them something that floats.

  • Remember 999 calls on mobiles will find any network signal, even if your own network isn’t covered.

  • Download the what3words app on your phone – it gives the emergency services your exact location, even if you are in a remote spot, and will help them reach you more quickly.

Read the Water Safety Code

Stop and think   

Take time to assess your surroundings. Look for the dangers and always research local signs and advice.

Stay together 

When around water always go with friends or family. Swim at a lifeguarded venue.

Call 999

In an emergency call 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service when inland, or the coastguard om at the coast. Don’t enter the water to rescue.

Float 

If you fall in or become tired – stay calm, float on your back and shout for help. Throw something that floats to someone who has fallen in.

Allan Hobson, community safety manager from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The RLSS UK Drowning Prevention Week is a timely reminder for parents, particularly with the summer holidays fast approaching, and we would encourage them to visit the website and access the water safety resources that are available so they and their families can enjoy themselves safely.

"As the weather warms up it’s tempting to take a dip in our rivers and lakes, but sadly too many people lose their lives through drowning. That’s why we’re working together to raise awareness of the risks and offer advice on how everyone can enjoy water safely this summer."

Cllr Amanda Riley, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, added: "Accidental drownings are preventable and we’re working closely with our partners and the RLSS UK to spread the word and raise awareness of the Water Safety Code and the right skills that can help keep children, young people and adults safe."

The County Durham Open Water Safety Group is chaired by Durham County Council.

Cllr John Shuttleworth, the authority’s Cabinet member for community safety and chair of County Durham and Darlington Combined Fire Authority, said: "We’re looking forward to a fine summer and know many people will be spending their time at our beautiful county’s rivers, lakes and beaches in the coming months.

"We hope they enjoy themselves when doing so, but it is really important they bear in mind that going in the water comes with risks and we would encourage them to take great care if doing so. It is also worth taking time to familiarise yourself with safety advice issued by the RLSS and others if you’re planning to spend time in or around water."

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Matt Croxall, charity director at Royal Life Saving Society UK, said: "The impact of the leisure sector and the work they do, especially during these warmer summer months, is invaluable.

"We’d like to thank Darlington Borough Council and its partners for their support in helping us to spread our message and stress the importance of water safety education through our Drowning Prevention Week campaign, as we continue to encourage families and teachers to have the water safety conversation with their little ones.

"We want to ensure that everyone can enjoy their summer break and enjoy being in or around water but be safe in the knowledge that they, and their children, have the skills and understanding about water safety – which could make all the difference."