New Drowning Prevention Initiative

Living Magazines Drowning Prevention Initiative

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has teamed up with the RNLI to make a waterfront venue a part of their Waterside Responder Scheme.

The Paper Mill in Apsley was the first location in Hertfordshire to take part in the lifesaving initiative to give staff members guidance on using throwlines, a piece of kit used by the service to pull in people who have got into difficulty in the water.

As part of UN Drowning Prevention Day on Monday 25 July, the fire and rescue service’s water rescue specialists demonstrated use of the throwline to staff. In the coming weeks, they will receive their very own RNLI throwline which will be kept behind the bar.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service shared the following advice:

  • If you see someone in trouble in the water, tell them to float on their back in a star shape and remind them to control their breathing.
  • Dial 999 as soon as you can and ask for the fire service inland or the coastguard if you’re by the sea
  • Use the what3words app to give your exact location
  • Those taking part in the Waterside Responder Scheme should then throw out the throwline to the person in difficulty and slowly pull them back as they float on their back.

Community Safety Co-ordinator Sam Metalli-Haward, Water Safety lead at the service, said: ‘We know there are lots of good people out there who want to help when someone gets in trouble in the water, but the last thing we want them to do is to jump in after them. The launch of the Waterside Responder Scheme in Hertfordshire should give those who are part of the scheme a safer way to help people in those first minutes before the fire service arrives.

‘The best advice to share with someone in trouble is to remember to float. Trying to swim in difficult open water when you may already be experiencing the effects of cold-water shock can make the situation worse. Try to float in a star-shape on your back and wait for help to arrive.’

Area Commander Steve Holton said: ‘On UN Drowning Prevention Day we reflect on the lives lost in Hertfordshire’s waterways and renew our efforts to share safety advice and champion initiatives like the what3words boards at Stanborough Lakes and the throwlines at Apsley.

‘It’s important to remember that you can have fun in the water in a safe way – always look for guided sessions if you want to explore open water. Nearly half of people who drown never intend to enter the water, so if you’re out for a jog or walking your dog, stay away from the edge.’

For more information and lifesaving advice, go to World Drowning Prevention Day 2022.