On thin ice

Compeled to add a second January blog

How is it possible to be an adult and make such poor decisions and set such a poor example for children and even put them directly in danger?

This last week or so has seen a cold snap in the U.K. and resulting freeze up of surface water….it’s fun as a kid to don wellies and holding a parents hand on a country walk to jump in those totally frozen little puddles on the country lane and around the park and smash the thin ice……but that is a far cry from a couple of the images we have seen and the media have reported on this week. Most chilling the newspaper picture of  a man carrying a small child walking out onto the surface of a frozen pond……what was he thinking?….Well actually he can’t have thought at all…..and the response on social media was inevitable , some calling for the man to be identified.

I deal with many parents of victims of drownings and a very common thing I hear amoungst the pain and grief is a wish they had known more about the dangers of drowning, spoken to their kids and warned them…the same way they had drilled road safety into them for example….and when some of those parents saw the above image…needless to say they were shocked and angry.

This week I was also contacted by one of my staff, a Watch Manager from one of the Fire Stations and he wanted to know if we could get some posters or signs to put up at a local venue after lots of kids….with their parents ….had been seen walking out onto a surface frozen pond …and one had fallen through, though safely recovered…..he was worried that someone may get hurt or worse.

In the UK it is unlikely that the surface freeze will be deep enough to withstand the body weight of an adult for much more than just a few feet ..it’s simply not cold enough….but the thing is you do not know how deep or strong the freeze is, so why take the risk? And worse still why risk a child ? …..the phrase “skating on thin ice”… means taking a real risk with poor odds…and that is precisely what this is.

Stay off frozen ponds, lakes and rivers and warn your children …we don’t want to have to be called to recover them from a situation that is COMPLETELY avoidable and preventable. Go to an ice rink or Syberia if you want to learn to ice skate!



Do you need to make a New Years resolution or know someone that does?

Happy 2017…I hope it’s a happy, safe and healthy year for you.

For many going back to work this week after enjoying a seasonal break and time with family with lots of rich food and gifts ..it means a return to the routine….for emergency services, it’s just another day…for some families the season of goodwill and celebration has been spoiled for ever…

I won’t highlight the individual cases of those that have been lost to car accidents, fires in the home or drowning over the last two weeks…a short social media or internet search will find them….but I do want to pause and say that some of the comments posted on these newspaper and media stories are extremely shocking and damaging.

The families and friends of those lost to accidents are suffering enough, why do some people, usually with pseudonyms, choose to make such heartless comments? The reality is that some of the fatalities and injuries will have been caused by the victims own actions, too much speed, too much alcohol, a lark that turns to tragedy ….the facts are the facts…but that does not change the impact on the family…they have lost someone they loved…or they are injured and will never be the same again…..so why do others seek to make it worse for them with some “smart-arse” comment ? It makes me so cross.

A more productive use of time or opinion is to raise awareness and help prevent accidents …in Brighton in the two weeks running upto Christmas, the police, fire service, Lifeguards, coast guards and other agencies went out along the front and beach and into the clubs at night, in party season,  to chat to people and raise awareness about the effects of alcohol. A local taxi firm was offering their services at reduced rates to get people home safely and some volunteers were offering “walk homes” to the local party-goers that were worse for wear….they were reducing potential incidents…

So if you have bothered to read this and know someone who makes negative comments on social media and on newspaper posts ….ask them to make a New Years resolution and either stop doing it or do something more proactive…help save a life not add to someone else’s misery.



Parliament talks drowning prevention

Important work to engage with our politicians and local authorities in the aim to reduce drownings in the UK

Chief Fire Officers Association

A one-off oral evidence session was held in Parliament by the Transport Committee on 5 December 2016. The sessions aim was to scrutinise the structure and coordination of organisations that work to prevent and respond to emergency incidents around the coastline.

It also asked questions around the issues of beach safety, and the responsibilities of beach owners and managers in ensuring the safety of the public in the light of a spate of tragic accidents at a number of locations in summer 2016.

The Chief Fire Officers Association’s Water Lead, Dawn Whittaker, was one of those invited to give evidence.

It was an excellent opportunity for CFOA and members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to highlight the collaborative work that is undertaken to prevent drowning and also to raise awareness with politicians of the UK National Drowning Prevention Strategy. The strategy was launched in February 2016 and has…

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Politics and Prevention

Over the last week colleagues who are members of the National Water Safety Forum have been working hard to raise awareness of our politicians in UK …to make them aware of the uk-drowning-prevention-strategy

Firstly the LGA, who are the supporting association for all local politicians in local government …We hope to raise awareness in local councils of their duty of care

The second meeting was with the Rt Hon John Hayes, who has agreed to continue with Ministerial support for the Strategy and for Drowning Prevention and to engage with other ministers in Education, Health, Response…etc

Last night we gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee on the work of the National Water Safety Forum and our partner agencies on tackling Drowning Prevention. We hope that they now have a better picture of some of the issues and that more work is needed to understand risk and take action in local communities…and that this is both an inland and coastal issue for the U.K.



Don’t Drink and Drown

5th December marks the start of the RLSS UK campaign which aims to increase awareness that water and alcohol don’t mix.

So often seasonal celebrations end up being a families all year round nightmares

stick together if you have been out drinking with friends, so you ALL get home

book a shared taxi home

avoid walking home by water, it’s easy to trip or make a bad judgement when you have been drinking alcohol

Leave the water side rescue equipment alone…it’s there to save lives, not to have a lark with

please check out http://www.rlss.org.uk/dont-drink-and-drown/

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