Working together for a resilient Birmingham.

Drowning Prevention Week

Birmingham Resilience Team is supporting the Chief Fire Officers Association’s call for people to ‘be water aware’ during CFOA’s campaign week.

Trips, falls or misjudging the risks of being near water meant that 302 people lost their lives across the UK in 2014.

“Most people would be shocked to hear that those victims just happen to be near water such as runners, walkers and fisherman,” said Pete Wilson, Head of Community Safety for WMFS. “They’re unaware of the risks and are totally unprepared for the ending up in the water.

“By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them, we hope to reduce the number of these needless deaths. We’re joining the call for people to ‘be water aware’.”

There’s lot more information in our Water Safety section.

Some 85 per cent of all drownings in the UK happen in open water such as rivers, canals, lakes, quarries and reservoirs. Whilst it might be warm outside, the temperature under water surfaces can be so cold it stops muscles from functioning properly.

Water safety tips:

– never jump or dive straight into open water – the depth can be unpredictable, you might not be able to see objects underneath and your body needs to naturally adjust to the temperature
– before you get in make sure you’re familiar with the area, including signs and advice, and think about what you might do if things go wrong
– if you can see fast-flowing water, DON’T get in – currents can quickly sweep people away.


Whether it’s the sea, a garden pond, paddling or swimming pool, river or lake… children love to play in and around water.

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death among under-16s. Many victims often misjudge how well they can swim and fail to appreciate the effects of cold water on their stamina and strength.

Young children can drown in just a couple of inches of water, and most drownings of children aged five or under happen in or around the home.

Visit the Royal Life Saving Society’s website for more advice, and find out more about pond and holiday swimming pool safety from RoSPA.

Canal safety:

The West Midlands have hundreds of miles of beautiful canals to explore, and the towpaths are great places to walk, run or ride a bike:

– be careful around locks, which are very deep with slippery sides and, when they’re moving water from one level to another, very strong currents
– don’t swim in a canal
– whether you’re on two feet or two wheels, keep away from the canal edge. If you’re alone, tell someone where you’re going before you set off
– if someone falls into the canal and can’t get out, shout ‘HELP!’ and go to get help. If you have a phone, ring 999 and ask for the fire service. Give them details of landmarks and bridges if you’re not sure exactly where on the canal you are
– in most circumstances you shouldn’t try to rescue a person from a canal yourself. If you can, find something to help them float, like a life ring.

Quarries are dangerous places to be and in which to swim:

– objects under the water could cause serious injury if you risk jumping in
– water in quarries will be very deep and, even in warm weather, very cold. Cold water shock stops muscles working properly and can affect even the strongest swimmers.

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