Residents and visitors to some of Norfolk’s most scenic waterside spots are invited to find out more about water safety from the county’s fire crews.
Fire and rescue crews will build on public engagement work already undertaken this year, and be out across the summer educating the public about water dangers, as well as demonstrating the use of throwlines which can help to save lives without putting the rescuer at risk.
Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: ‘Water safety is a priority for our fire & rescue service, who sadly are frequently called to people in trouble in Norfolk’s water. Many of those people didn’t even intend to be in the water in the first place. Our crews will be out giving lifesaving advice to the public this summer, working with partners to help educate our own residents and visitors to Norfolk.’
The service is also continuing its push, working with partners from the county’s Drowning Prevention Forum, including the RNLI, HM Coastguard and Norfolk Police’s Broads Beat, to train waterside business staff in the use of throwlines.
On Friday, 30 July, fire crews will attend Bawsey Country Park to raise awareness of the dangers of swimming there with visitors. Crews from King’s Lynn will be demonstrating how throwlines work and discussing cold water shock – how floating to live if people fall into the water can save their lives. The crews will be there from 10am to 2pm (incident permitting). Norfolk Police’s Broads Beat team will also be attending and our teams will be reminding the public not to swim in the water there.
Further awareness events are also planned for weekends throughout the summer holidays, with further details being posted to the fire service social media accounts.
On Wednesday, 11 August, Great Yarmouth crews will be by the Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth, speaking to the public about how to keep themselves and their families safe in and near water. There will be throwline demonstrations and the chance for people to have a go at using them, so they’d know what to do in an emergency. Residents and holidaymakers are welcome to stop and pick up some advice between 11am and 1pm.
Also this summer, crews and the community safety team will continue to work with waterside businesses to offer throwline training for staff as part of the RNLI waterside responder scheme.
Among those events planned for businesses are training sessions for staff at The Nelson, Ribs of Beed and Gibraltar Gardens, all waterside venues in Norwich.
If you run a businesses near a broad or river, get in touch about safety sessions for your team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Fire staff and partners have already trained staff from waterside pubs, bars and restaurants across Norfolk, at locations including Norwich Riverside, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Wroxham and Acle.
Further business events planned include at Friars Quay in Norwich.
With more people holidaying in our county and residents staying closer to home, the summer will be a busy one across our inland waterways and coastal areas. Nationally, there has already been a number of water deaths since lockdown restrictions eased, and in Norfolk one death this year at Bawsey.
In 2020, Norfolk had the third* highest number of accidental water deaths in England, with nine people losing their lives. Some of those people did not even intend to be in the water and more incidents occur in the summer months. Norfolk Fire & Rescue service attended 58 water rescues in 2020.
Please note that during the planned public events, it is not currently possible for families to sit inside fire engines etc. because of the pandemic, as NFRS works to protect its own staff and our communities from Covid-19 risk.
*East Sussex and Cornwall were the only counties with higher numbers of water deaths (stats from National Water Incident Database).