SURREY Fire and Rescue Service is getting on board with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in a new initiative to save more lives, backed by other Surrey emergency services and borough councils.
Statistic reveal drowning is now a bigger cause of death in Surrey than accidental house fires, and the fire service is adopting the lifeboat charity’s ‘Respect the Water’ campaign to raise awareness.
The joint initiative kicked off on Saturday, June 10 in Runnymede, when firefighters, RNLI lifeboat crews and paramedics gave a series of demonstrations including water rescues and CPR.
It is the first time the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign has been adopted in a landlocked county.
In linking up with the charity to save lives at sea, the fire service aims to make sure key safety advice reaches people living near or visiting the county’s lakes and rivers.
The initiative is supported by Runnymede, Spelthorne and Elmbridge borough councils, the three Surrey boroughs boredring the River Thames, as well as South East Coast Ambulance Service, Surrey Police and Surrey Search and Rescue.
Denise Turner-Stewart, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Respect the Water is the RNLI’s campaign to prevent deaths from drowning.
“We’re pleased to be working with the charity to expand it to Surrey with support from other emergency services and borough councils along the Thames.
“We want people to enjoy the water but also recognise the dangers.
“Our fire-and-rescue service has been called to more than 250 incidents at Surrey’s rivers and lakes in seven years.”
Since 2010, 34 people have drowned in open water in Surrey and 33 have died in accidental house fires, according to fire service records.
Guy Addington, RNLI community safety partner, added: “The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards saved hundreds of people from near-fatal incidents in 2016 and rescued thousands more but, sadly, they aren’t able to reach everyone.
“If people in danger in the water can help themselves initially by floating and regaining control of their breathing, they stand a much greater chance of surviving.
“Through our Respect the Water campaign, we want to start a national conversation about water safety.
“We’re asking the public to remember this lifesaving advice, share with others and practice the survival skill of floating – it could be the difference between life and death.”
The campaign is targeted at adult men, who account for 79 per cent of the fatalities over the past five years along the Thames’ tidal reaches.
For more information go to: www.RNLI.org/RespectTheWater or #RespectTheWater.
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