Tyne and Wear emergency services warn the public of the dangers of open water

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North East emergency services unite to highlight the dangers of water on World Drowning Prevention Day.

Tyne and Wear’s emergency services have come together to stress the importance of water safety on World Drowning Prevention Day (Tuesday, July 25).

Northumbria Police, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and HM Coastguard are all underlining the dangers that walking, playing or swimming in areas of open water can pose.

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World Drowning Prevention Day aims to highlight the necessity of water safety and the hazards that the sea, rivers, lakes, ponds and other sources of open water can present.

In our region over the last decade, a number of people have tragically lost their lives after entering the water, with the emergency services using World Drowning Prevention Day to try and prevent similar incidents from happening.

Tyne and Wear’s emergency services have united to spread the message of water safety. Photo: TWFRS.Tyne and Wear’s emergency services have united to spread the message of water safety. Photo: TWFRS.
Tyne and Wear’s emergency services have united to spread the message of water safety. Photo: TWFRS. | TWFRS

Since 2017, ten lives have been saved using throwlines and throwbags that have been introduced across Tyne and Wear in conjunction with two water safety programmes.

One is alongside the RNLI, the Waterside Responder Scheme, and a series of throwline boards that have been installed along the River Tyne and River Wear in association with Newcastle City Council and Sunderland City Council.

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Station Manager Jonathan Ramanayake, from the TWFRS Prevention and Education team, has urged people to be safe around open water now that the summer holidays are upon us.

He said: “We are fortunate to have such beautiful and celebrated waterways here in Tyne and Wear but under the surface of those water courses can be hidden dangers that can prove fatal.

“With the schools, colleges and universities all breaking up for the Summer holidays it’s crucial for people to realise that water safety is paramount when it comes to saving the lives of loved ones.

“The words being strongly used are ‘respect the water’, and that is exactly how people should be approaching the water as without the proper awareness of what could happen more lives could be lost.

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“We are working with our partners in the region to try and get these messages across.”

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Sergeant Simon Falconer, of Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit, highlighted the importance of people knowing the dangers of open water.

He added: “It’s really important that people recognise and understand the potential risks when going into the water.

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“We have sadly seen all too often the devastating consequences that this can have, so on World Drowning Prevention Day, we want to reiterate our message of vigilance and caution.

“Anybody who sees anyone in difficulty is asked to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, rather than enter the water themselves and risk further problems.

“If you see someone in danger, act fast – keep your eyes on the person and wait for emergency services to arrive. That will allow the Coastguard, our officers and colleagues at the fire service to get to the casualty as quickly and safely as possible.”

The uniting of the emergency services is part of the #RespectTheWater campaign that has been developed by the National Water Safety Forum.

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