With the summer holidays just around the corner, the Norfolk Drowning Prevention Forum is being launched to try to cut the risk of people drowning on the countyâ€™s waterways and reduce the number of accidental drowning by half by 2020.
The Forum will be launched on Monday (27 June) at 2pm at Whitlingham Country Park in Trowse near Norwich. The Forum is made up from a variety of agencies with water responsibilities including: HM Coastguard, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, the RNLI, The Broads Authority, Royal Life Saving Society, Norfolk Constabulary, The Mineral Products Association and Norfolk County Council.
Exercises will take place with water rescue and dive teams to carry out a simulated rescue and potential search. Teams and representatives from the Forum will be available to talk about water safety and drowning prevention with the media. The water rescue teams and dive team will also be available to talk about their experiences and there is an opportunity for a journalist to be involved in the rescue exercise.
This multi-agency Forum is one of the first in England and is aligned to the National Water Safety Forum and the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-26 which was launched last month and which aims to reduce the number of accidental drowning fatalities by 50% by 2020. The following agencies will be focussing on water safety in general but are expected to cover the following issues:
Police: drowning prevention in general
Coastguard: inland and coastal safety
RNLI: respect the water campaign
Royal Life Saving Society: learning to swim and water safety
Broads Authority: safety on and around the Broads
Mineral Products Association: staying safe around active and disused quarries
Fire and Rescue: water safety and what can happenÂ
The dive team will share their experiences of underwater risks and incidents and the rescue team will be available to talk about incidents they have attended.
The launch of the Norfolk Drowning Prevention Campaign and related messages will be shared on social media focussing on advice from the RNLIâ€™s Respect the Water Campaign.
Norfolk Fire & Rescue Serviceâ€™s Head of Community Safety, Stuart Horth said: â€œWe donâ€™t wish to prevent people using our waterways but we are urging them to be aware of the risks and use them safely and responsibly. Many people enjoy the water but not all locations are safe to do so and in Norfolk we have tragically seen people drown in disused quarries, lakes, rivers and the sea and often this could have been prevented if people were aware of the risks and how to enjoy the water safely. More people die drowning in open water than as a result of accidental fires.â€
Norfolk County Councilâ€™s, Chairman of Communities, Margaret Dewsbury said: â€œAround 400 people die drowning in open water every year as a result of an accident in or around water. The Forum is an effective way for the Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service to bring together all the relevant agencies to share important advice and best practice allowing the fire service to advise the public effectively. I hope people will still enjoy the good weather but be guided by this important advice.â€