Public urged to #RespectTheWater following a busy bank holiday weekend in Cardiff Bay
As the weather improves and Covid-19 local restrictions ease, Water Safety Wales are urging the public to stay safe around open water.
With thousands flocking to Cardiff Bay over the recent bank holiday weekend there is heighten concerns of water safety and risk to life. Water Safety Wales, a taskforce of key agencies with an interest in water safety and drowning prevention are aiming to educate and reduce water related rescues. The group are predicting an increase in ‘staycations’ this year due to the current travel restrictions with many choosing to holiday at Wales’ beauty hotspots near open water.
Every year there are around 600 water related deaths in the UK and in Wales there are an average of 45 in coastal and inland waters. Almost six in ten (58%) of people who died as a result of an accident in the water did not intend to enter the water at all. With leisure centres and swimming pools remaining closed, open water such as, the sea, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, ponds and quarry lakes may seem a tempting alternative for a quick dip or water activities, particularly if they are located close to urban areas, like Cardiff Bay. Although the water may seem alluring on a hot day, they will often conceal a range of hazards.
Water Safety Lead for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Dave Ansell said: “We understand many have not been able to travel for a holiday over the past year due to the Government restrictions. If you are planning a staycation, whether that be a trip to the beach or enjoying Wales’ inland beauty spots near water please remember to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks. Following concerns over the safety of those visiting Cardiff Bay over the bank holiday weekend where the area is near to open water, we urge the public not to ignore warning signs that are there to protect them. Even though the weather is warm, the water is still extremely cold, which can cause ‘cold water shock’ putting an individual at risk of drowning. Cold water also significantly impairs the ability to swim, even strong swimmers can find that their muscles tire more rapidly and individuals can become disorientated. Anyone suffering cold water shock should resist the urge to panic, relax and float on their backs until the cold water shock passes and they can take a next step, whether that is calling for help or swimming to safety. There are also many hidden dangers within open water such as concealed rubbish and debris which can cause significant injuries, leading to water rescues by emergency services. Please respect the water and stay safe.”
Chair of Water Safety Wales, Chris Cousens from the RNLI said: “We know that many people involved in fatalities and serious incidents at the coast and inland water never intended to enter the water and many were doing everyday activities like walking or running. We urge anyone planning a trip to the water to always check the weather and tides, tell someone where they are going and when they should expect them back and carry a means of calling for help and keep it close to their person. In an emergency at the coast, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard or in an emergency at an inland water location like a river, lake, reservoir or quarry call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.’
Water Safety Wales recently launched Wales’ first national Drowning Prevention Strategy, which aims to reduce water related deaths and incidents in Wales.
Chris said: ‘Water Safety Wales believes one death is too many and we will reduce drowning if everyone plays their part. We have an aspiration of zero water related deaths in Wales and our Drowning Prevention Strategy aims to enable people living and visiting Wales to be safer in, on and around water by reducing water related deaths and incidents. To read the strategy or find out more about Water Safety Wales, visit: https://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/wales/wales-drowning-prevention-strategy/’
Anyone near water should be aware of their surroundings, be aware of tidal changes, adhere to safety signs and follow government guidance.