Hampshire County Council is urging people to take extra care in open water this summer, after the recent heatwave saw 30 people tragically drown in the UK in just a week.
Councillor Roz Chadd, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “I have been shocked and saddened by the number of preventable accidents on both seaside and inland waterways recently, and I appeal to anyone planning to take to the water to familiarise themselves with the simple tips that can save their life should they get into difficulties. This is the third summer where we are promoting our Stay Afloat initiative and the message remains the same: if you get in difficulties, don’t try to fight your way out of it, relax and float until your breathing is back under control.
“Our Stay Afloat resource was developed in partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the University of Portsmouth. The principles apply to anyone, of any age, who swims at the beach or in Hampshire waterways. If that’s you, please take a few minutes to learn how you could save your own life.”
Stay Afloat is a standalone, highly interactive lesson, developed by specialists at the RNLI, extreme environments expert Professor Mike Tipton from the University of Portsmouth, and has been used in Hampshire secondary schools since 2019. The simple message is: Relax and float on immersion until your breathing is back under control – Float First. It also teaches about the dangers of rip currents and tides.
With more than 200 miles of coastline and 600 miles of navigable waterways, plus countless small streams, lakes and ponds, there are plenty of places throughout Hampshire where people enjoy swimming and cooling off. But, even in summertime, cold water shock can kill. Added to this are the unseen dangers of rip currents at the beach or fast running river water.
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