Revellers in Greater London have been classified as high risk of drowning whilst under the influence and are being warned to act responsibly near water during their night out.
As part of the national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, run by the UK’s drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), Greater London townsfolk are being urged not to walk home near bodies of water after they have been drinking.
Greater London was considered a high-risk county by RLSS UK after stats revealed 43 people accidentally drowned in the last five years and 13 of these (30%) were found to have had alcohol in their system, making Greater London the 5th highest county for alcohol related drownings in the UK.
Over the last five years there have been 1,581 accidental deaths in the UK and almost 30% of the victims had alcohol in their bloodstream*.
As part of the campaign, London Fire Brigade and RNLI are supporting RLSS UK and will be hosting a stall at West India docks on 5 December, where visitors will be treated to rescue demonstrations and water safety information. Bars in the docks area will be supporting the campaign and the London Fire Brigade will be leading on activity in Kingston and Richmond, putting resources in bars and talking to people about the dangers of walking near water whilst under the influence.
Emma Fraser, Senior Development Officer for London Fire Brigade (LFB) said: “London Fire Brigade strongly supports RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign and wants to urge Londoners, those who work and those that visit London, to be especially vigilant at this time of year. We want you to enjoy your festive celebrations in our Capital but to do so safely and think about how you are getting home. We are used to thinking about not walking home through dark, unsafe areas; we need to add not travelling home near water to that list. At this time of year, our waterways are very cold. If you fall or jump in, you are likely to rapidly experience cold water shock and to get into difficulty.
“LFB has water rescue responsibility for the inland waterways within London – 10 of our 102 fire stations have specialist water rescue capabilities, plus we have the Lambeth River Boat Station (2 fireboats). LFB has shared responsibility for the Thames with the RNLI. If you see someone in difficulty, do not go in after them, call 999 ensuring you tell the operator where the casualty was last seen in the water to help with rescue.”
Hannah Wiggins-Bettles, RLSS UK Community Drowning Prevention Coordinator for the w London area, said: “People tragically die each year because they’ve entered the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident. Drinking near or in water can be a dangerous and deadly cocktail. Alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.
“When walking home from a night out, avoid routes that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and always stay with and look out for your friends.”
“We want everyone to have a great time this Christmas and our Don’t Drink and Drown campaign gives essential advice to party-goers to make sure they know how to stay safe when they’re out celebrating.”