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Fire Service Issues Water Safety And Mud Rescue Advice For Isle Of Wight

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) is sharing top tips to stay safe around water and mud as the weather improves and people start enjoying more time outdoors.

The advice has been issued as part of National Fire Chief Council’s annual Be Water Aware Week campaign which runs from 22-28 April.

The aim of the week is to raise awareness about the risk of accidental drowning and provide safety advice ahead of the warmer months.

In 2022, 266 lives were lost to accidental drowning in the UK.

These deaths are preventable tragedies, and HIWFRS is joining the call to urge people to stay safe in and around water.

Statistics reveal 40% of people who accidentally drowned had no intention of entering the water. Slips, trips and falls were often the cause of these accidents.

Cold water shock is another danger often underestimated by those with limited experience of outdoor swimming.

HIWFRS is also using this week to remind people about how to stay safe when out and about around mud after several recent mud rescues.

The Fire Service, Coastguard and RNLI are often called out to rescue members of the public who have become stuck in mud near to the coastline or rivers.

Getting stuck in the mud when out and about can happen to anyone, but there are steps people can take to avoid this.


Water safety advice

Make sure you know what to do in an emergency – if you see someone in difficulty, tell somebody, preferably a lifeguard if there is one nearby, or go to the nearest telephone, dial 999, ask for the fire and rescue service at inland water sites and the Coastguard at the coast.

  • Learn to spot and keep away from dangers: you may swim well in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that you will be able to swim in cold water outdoors
  • Never swim alone in case you need help
  • Don’t drink alcohol when undertaking water-related activities, it impairs judgement and your ability to swim
  • Avoid walking routes near water if you have been drinking alcohol
  • Don’t dive or jump straight into open water, this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock even on the warmest day
  • If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, don’t panic, extend your arms and legs out and float on your back until the effect of cold-water shock pass
  • Do not risk tides, if you do not know the times, ensure you are aware of tide times before you visit a location
  • Always take extra care around the water’s edge, cliff faces and open mudflats
  • Always follow the special flags (red flags on beaches mean it is unsafe to enter the sea) and notices that may warn you of danger – details can be found on the RNLI website.
  • Children should always be accompanied by an adult, an adult can point out dangers or help if somebody gets into difficulty
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back

Mud safety advice

  • Always follow local warning signs
  • Don’t go out alone into unknown areas
  • Remember, mud isn’t always obvious as it can resemble stable ground
  • Be aware of tide times and currents
  • Take a mobile phone with you
  • Stay on footpaths and keep dogs under control
  • If you do get caught out or come across someone stuck in mud – call 999 immediately and ask for Coastguard – don’t enter the mud to help them
  • If you do find yourself in danger, stay calm and avoid movement, spread your weight and stand evenly, call out to attract attention and call 999 as soon as possible.

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