Once again this year our team are supporting the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2-8 December.
On Thursday 5th and Friday 6th December, we along with teams from RLSS UK, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent Police, HM Coastguard Margate and the Community Pastors will be out and about talking to bar staff, venue security, taxi drivers and members of the public about keeping people safe whilst under the influence. Kent was ranked in the top three counties for drink and drug related drownings.
We will also be sharing water safety advice via our social media channels daily as well as the RLSS UK’s brand-new film via social media which shows how easily a fun night out can turn into tragedy, and how staying with your friends can make all the difference.
Latest statistics revealed 53 people have accidentally drowned in Kent over the last five years and 32% of these (17) were found to have had alcohol and/or drugs in their system, making it the 2nd highest county for drownings linked to intoxication.
Nationally there were 1,4581 accidental drowning deaths in the UK between 2014-2018 and more than 30% of the victims had alcohol and/or drugs in their bloodstream*. Many of them drowned because they walked home alone and fell in the water.
Hannah Wiggins-Bettles, RLSS UK Community Drowning Prevention Coordinator for the Kent area, said: “It’s a sad truth that the number of drownings increase in the winter period, more often than not because of intoxication.
“Families, friends and whole communities are left devastated every year because someone walks home alone whilst under the influence and falls into the water.
We’re urging people to stay together on a night out. Make sure their friends get home safe and don’t let them walk anywhere, especially near water, alone.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager for Customer Safety, Colin King, said: “It only takes a small amount of alcohol to impact your ability to save yourself in water. Even strong swimmers with no alcohol in their system could struggle if they fell into a river, due to underwater currents and the effects of cold water shock, which includes involuntary inhalation and can result in drowning. So if you fall in after just a drink or two, you’re likely to drown because your reaction times are reduced, instincts are skewed and coordination is impacted. Have fun this Christmas, but please take care and think before you drink near water.”
Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Andy Mills said: “We are happy to support this critically important campaign and hope that everyone stays safe.”
The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2 to 8 December, was launched in 2014 following a string of tragic drownings of young people. RLSS UK was keen to prevent more tragedies, by targeting at risk groups in hot spot areas, at particular points in the year where alcohol related drowning incidences increase – September (at the start of the new university term) and December (during the festive period).
As part of the campaign, organisations up and down the country promote water safety messaging and run awareness activities urging revellers to take care near water whilst under the influence of alcohol and/or.
Stay Safe this Christmas:
- Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in
- Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
- Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking
- Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble
For more information on RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign visit www.rlss.org.uk, follow the campaign on #DontDrinkandDrown, or call 0300 3230 096
Stats taken from National Water Safety Forum Water Incident Database (WAID) of which RLSS UK is a member. Data is used from 2014-2018, including accidental and natural cause records only. Adults aged 18 years+. Alcohol records are suspected or confirmed deceased, based upon Coroners and emergency service records, court records.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service