Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Water Safety & Drowning Prevention

Drowning in the UK is amongst the leading cause of accidental death. 50% of people who die never intended to go in the water.

Drowning happens quickly and without warning. It has a devastating impact on families and many people will survive a drowning incident but are left with life changing injuries.

We want people to really enjoy being near the water and be aware of the relevant risks. Here's our safety advice:


  • Check weather conditions before you go
  • Let someone know where you're going to fish and when you'll return
  • Be careful if you are wading in water- waders can fill with a water making it hard to move and currents can be strong and pull you over
  • Know where you are - consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map
  • Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength
  • Is your fishing spot your safe? Riverbanks can erode, conditions change and you can get cut off by the tide
  • Always dress appropriately
  • Coastal and sea fishing is particularly high risk
  • Wear a lifejacket even if you're a strong swimmer

Runners and Walkers

  • Make sure your walk or run is suitable for your fitness level
  • Consider joining a running or walking group
  • Be aware and take notice of any warning signs
  • When running or walking next to water, stay clear of the edges
  • River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Take a fully charged mobile phone and check signal strength
  • Look out for trip or slip hazards - pay attention to your footing and stick to proper pathways
  • Don't walk or run next to water if levels are high
  • Know where you are - consider something like an OS locate app for a smart phone or a map
  • Don't assume just because you have walked or run a route many times before it is still safe
  • Avoid walking or running near water in the dark

Dog Walkers

  • Avoid throwing sticks or balls near water for dogs - they will go after it if they think you want it back even if you've thrown it too far or into dangerous water
  • Never enter the water to try and save a dog - the dog usually manages to scramble out
  • Even dogs that like swimming can usually only swim for short bursts - keep an eye of your dog and don't let it enter the water if it's older or tired
  • If your dog loves the water keep it on a lead and make sure you have control to prevent it jumping into hazardous or unsafe areas
  • Wet riverbanks, steep edges or jagged rocks can make it hard for a dog to scramble out and be a slip risk for owners
  • Don't lean into water and try and lift your dog out - you can topple in
  • Dogs can have cold water shock too
  • If your dog has struggled in the water it may have inhaled water and should see a vet as dogs can drown after the event if water has entered the lungs

Young Adult Drinkers

  • Stay with your group and don't wander off if you become separated
  • Keep an eye on any friends who are worse for wear and make sure you help them home
  • Avoid walking near water even if the path is lit, you may not realise how unsteady on your feet you are or notice trip hazards
  • If you fall in after drinking your chances of being able get out of the water are decreased as alcohol impairs even simple movements
  • Make sure you store a taxi number in your phone and some emergency money at home, so you can pay. If the money is at home you can't lose it or accidently spend it.
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