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During National Drowning Prevention Week (June 15 to 22) Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) David Allen attended a water safety presentation by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service at Ennerdale School, to hear about the ‘Float to Live’ campaign and how it can save lives.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society UK, over 300 lives are lost to drowning across the UK and Ireland each year. Water safety education is vital and, in some instances, could be a child’s only opportunity to learn about the water.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service attended 43 water rescues between April 2023 and April 2024, with the highest number of incidents occurring at Keswick and Carlisle East/West. The locations that saw the highest number of incidents included our lakes, rivers and ponds

All year-round Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s crews visit schools, colleges, businesses and local community groups to provide invaluable water safety guidance, advice and to educate people on the ‘Float to Live’ campaign.

The RNLI charity recommends that if you find yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, you should ‘Float to Live’, even though your instincts tell you to swim hard. It is the cold-water shock that makes people gasp uncontrollably and breathe in water. Instead, you should ‘Float to Live’.

The best way to float is to follow the five steps below:

  • Tilt your head back with your ears submerged.
  • Try to relax and breathe normally.
  • Move your hands to help you float .
  • Spread your arms and legs out to improve stability – and it's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently.
  • Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety

PFCC, David Allen comments: “Drowning Prevention Week is an opportunity for everyone to stop and think about water safety, especially as it is during the summer months that we experience the most accidental water related fatalities here in the UK.

“When enjoying the lakes, rivers and waterways around Cumbria, we need to expect the unexpected. Even when water may appear calm and safe, it can sometimes be deceptive.

“The average water temperature here in Cumbria, is approximately 10 to 13 degrees all year round, which means people will quickly feel the effects of cold-water shock on their bodies.

“Drowning is preventable. It’s about keeping ourselves safe whether in, on and around water and remembering the five simple steps around the ‘float to live’ message. It may well save your life.”

“As your Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, I am the voice of residents within Policing and Fire – I am your voice. If any member of the public has a concern around water safety, or around the Constabulary or Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service , please raise it with me at or call 01768 217734.”

Andrew Lowes, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s Station Manager for Prevention, said: “We are very supportive of Drowning Prevention Week, and our crews are out about all this week proactively delivering safety messages to people in our communities.

“It is important that people know how to react if they – or someone they are with – gets into difficulty in the water, and we encourage everyone to visit the ‘water safety’ section of our website to equip themselves with this vital safety information as we enter the busy summer months.”

Water safety | Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service

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