Avon Fire & Rescue Service urges people to stay safe this Christmas party season

With Christmas almost upon us, and parties now in full swing, Avon Fire & Rescue Service is urging people to stay safe, particularly around our waterways.

The warning comes as many people will be out celebrating with family, friends and colleagues and follows a number of tragic deaths in the River Avon, often involving people who have been out socialising.

Steve Quinton, Group Manager, Risk Reduction said: “This time of year, there are lots of people out and about celebrating the festive season and whilst we don’t want to discourage them from enjoying themselves, we do want to make sure they remain safe.

“The last place you want to end up at this time of year is in the river, as the water is particularly cold. The low temperatures mean that even extremely strong swimmers will quickly find themselves in real difficulty.

“Our advice is to give some thought to how you will get home at the end of the night. If your walk takes you near water and you’ve had a couple of drinks it might be worth thinking about an alternative route or getting a taxi.

Rather than walking home alone, stay in groups and look out for your friends to make sure you all get home safely at the end of your night.”

These messages are also supported by the Community Resilience Team (CRT), a group of trained volunteers who are assisting their local communities and first responders.

Along with the Bristol and North East Somerset River Safety Group and the Bath Community Student Partnership, the CRT have been carrying out river patrols in Bath and will be doing the same on Friday 15 December.

Safety advice

  • Rivers, canals and open water can present a real danger if you’ve had a drink. The water can be extremely cold this time of year, and added to the effects of alcohol, can dramatically affect the reactions of even the strongest swimmer.
  • Plan a route home at the start of the night. If your walk home takes you past water could you take an alternative route or get a taxi?
  • To help you stay more aware, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

What to do if somebody is in trouble:

  • Think - do not put yourself in danger. Do not enter the water or jump in.
  • Shout - try to get someone’s attention, get them to call 999 and request the Fire and Rescue Service.
  • Reach - if it’s safe to do so, try and reach the person with a stick or a pole or any other object that will keep you out of danger.  Crouch or lie down to avoid being pulled into the water.

Throw – use designated rescue equipment or a rope if available to pull the person to the bank.  Otherwise throw in something that will float, this will help keep the person afloat until assistance arrives.