Drowning signShocking new figures released for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week (25 April to 1 May) show that 44 per cent of people who drown in the UK have no intention of entering the water.

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is supporting the Chief Fire Officers Association’s call for people to ‘be water aware’ during CFOA’s campaign week.

Trips, falls or misjudging the risks of being near water meant that 302 people lost their lives across the UK in 2014.

“Most people would be shocked to hear that those victims just happen to be near water such as runners, walkers and fisherman,” said Pete Wilson, Head of Community Safety for WMFS. “They’re unaware of the risks and are totally unprepared for the ending up in the water.

“By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them, we hope to reduce the number of these needless deaths. We’re joining the call for people to ‘be water aware’."

Some 85 per cent of all drownings in the UK happen in open water such as rivers, canals, lakes, quarries and reservoirs. Whilst it might be warm outside, the temperature under water surfaces can be so cold it stops muscles from functioning properly.

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death among under-16s. Many victims often misjudge how well they can swim and fail to appreciate the effects of cold water on their stamina and strength.

Young children can drown in just a couple of inches of water, and most drownings of children aged five or under happen in or around the home.