Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Summer Water Safety

Drowning accidents are especially high in the summer months and over the last few years, we have heard of too many tragedies that could have been avoided. 

Every year people drown both at home and on holiday because they don’t take simple precautions. We want people to enjoy the water safely. Please help to avoid another tragic summer this year by spreading the following water safety advice far and wide. 

Summer Water Safety

  • Look out for lifeguards - if you’re looking for a place to cool off always find a lifeguarded swimming site
  • It’s colder than it looks - water at open water and inland sites is often much colder than it looks, cold water can affect your ability to swim and self-rescue
  • Don’t go too far - always swim parallel to the shore, that way you’re never too far away from it.
  • It’s stronger than it looks - currents in the water can be very strong. If you find yourself caught in a riptide don’t swim against it, you’ll tire yourself out. Swim with the current and call for help.
  • Bring a friend - always bring a friend when you go swimming so if anything goes wrong you’ve got someone there to help.

Water Safety at Home

People inevitably spend more time in their homes and gardens, and when the temperatures rise, they’re enjoying paddling pools, hot tubs and residential swimming pools. 

Around 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year and many more suffer injury, some life-changing, through non-fatal experiences. More people die from drowning in the UK and Ireland than from domestic fires or cycling accidents. 

Drownings around the home are easily preventable so please follow these safety tips to make sure that you and your loved ones can enjoy water safely at home. 

  • Never leave your children unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as 2cm of water
  • Securely cover all water storage tanks and drains
  • Empty paddling pools, containers, buckets and watering cans, as soon as they have been used and turn them upside down when empty so they don't collect water
  • Install self-closing and self-latching gates, fences of at least four feet tall surrounding all sides of any pool, and locks to prevent children from gaining access to home pools or pools of water 
  • Install secure fencing around garden ponds (at least four feet high) to act as a barrier or add mesh or a grill on top of the pond (strong enough to support a child’s weight without dropping below the surface of the pond water) 
  • Always turn hosepipes off at the tap, so children cannot fill vessels themselves 

Water Safety on Holiday

If you are preparing for your summer holiday, ensure you and your family follow our advice:

  • When researching your holiday, or arriving at the destination if you haven’t yet done so, check the safety arrangements of any water-based activities and if there is lifeguard cover at the pool/beach
  • Check bathing sites for hazards, check the safest places to swim and always read the signs – find out what local warning signs and flags mean
  • Make sure the whole famly can swim
  • Swim with any children in your care – it’s more fun and you can keep them close and safe
  • Never swim alone
  • Take time to check the depth, water flow and layout of pools
  • Never enter the water after drinking alcohol 
  • On beaches check when the tide will be high and low and make sure that you won’t be cut off from the beach exit by the rising tide. Also be aware of dangerous rip-currents
  • Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – each year there are drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea. Do not use them in open water 
  • Do not swim near to or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater or coral 
  • Swim parallel to the beach and close to the shore 

Always follow the Water Safety Code. Whenever you are around water:

STOP and THINK - Look for the dangers, always read the signs

STAY TOGETHER - Never swim alone - always go with friends or family

In an emergency:

CALL 999 - Shout for help and phone 999

FLOAT - If you fall in, float or swim on your back. Throw something that floats to anyone who has fallen in

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