Water safety campaign launched ahead of summer of staycations
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A campaign urging day-trippers and holidaymakers to stay safe in the county's waters has been launched ahead of the busy summer season.
Norfolk's rescue teams are bracing themselves for a hectic few months, with thousands of families set to enjoy staycations instead of breaks abroad.
And, on Friday (April 16), emergency services met at Whitlingham Country Park as new recruits from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) carried out a series of training exercises in the broad.
Last year saw countless water-related incidents across the region, including one weekend in July when two people died in Norfolk in two days.
Greg Preston, from NFRS and chairman of the county's Drowning Prevention Forum, is determined to stop such tragedies from happening again.
"Every year our waterways - both inland and coastal - are a real attraction, and this year we've got an increasing number of staycations to contend with," said Mr Preston.
"We understand the public will want to go to the beach and to open water, particular following lockdown. But people must understand there are inherent dangers.
"There were unfortunately a number of fatalities in our waters last year. I know in my job that we will see it again, and we are asking the public to help us prevent it.
"Our waters can be a dangerous environment, but they can be beautiful and enjoyed safely."
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Friday's gathering served as an opportunity for rescue teams to re-sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU), an agreement to deliver training to water-side venues across the area.
Among them were officers from the Broads Beat policing team, including PC Paul Bassham.
"Everyone's been released from a long period of time indoors and it's great to be outside, but we just want people to have common sense," added PC Bassham.
"The coast is already busy and boatyards are already full up, so this is about getting the message across so we can prevent tragedies."
NFRS has offered the following safety advice:
- Ensure you are a confident swimmer and have water safety skills
- Swim at lifeguarded beaches and pools, use safety equipment and do not drink alcohol before swimming
- Know how to avoid water safety hazards such as rip tides, cold water and moving water
- Be aware of the dangers of open water. Temperatures can drop sharply and there may be obstacles underneath
- In an emergency, call 999 and ask for the coastguard