Posted: 29.04.21 at 10:46 by Philippa Davies
People enjoying a drink in pubs near water are being urged to take extra care and look out for their friends, in a campaign by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
In the last five years, fire crews have attended 360 water rescue incidents in the two counties.
Area manager Wayne Rawlins said: “When many people think of water safety, they probably wouldn’t think of walking or running by a river. Shockingly, around half of people who drown had no intention of entering the water.
“Please don't assume you're not at risk of drowning when you don’t intend to get into the water. If you’re out drinking alcohol near water, make sure you stay safe, including choosing a sensible route home – ideally well away from the water. If you can, walk with someone else so you can keep each other safe”.
If someone falls into the water near you, follow this advice:
1. Never go into the water to try to save someone.
2. Call 999 immediately. If you’re near the coast, ask for the coastguard. If you are inland, ask for the fire and ambulance services.
3. Let emergency services know where you are. Use location services on your phone if possible. Downloading the What3Words app can help pinpoint your location. If you don’t have a phone or can’t access location tools, look for any landmarks or signs that could help services find you.
4. If the person can swim, shout “swim to me!” The water can be disorientating, but this could help give them a focus. Keep instructions loud, clear, and consistent.
5. Look for lifesaving equipment. There might be lifebelts or throw bags you can use.
6. If there isn’t any lifesaving equipment you can use, look for other things that could help them stay afloat, such as a ball. You can even use a scarf or long stick to help pull someone in. If you do this, lie on the ground so your entire body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water, as you might get pulled in.
If you manage to get someone out of the water, they will need medical attention. Even if they seem fine, drowning can occur at a later stage if water has already entered the lungs. It can cause death up to 48 hours after the near-drowning incident.
If the person is unconscious, check they are breathing. If they are not breathing, they need five rescue breaths and then CPR (30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths). Continue until help arrives. If the person is unconscious but breathing, put them in the recovery position with their head lower than their body.