Take extra care if exercising around water

Drowning Prevention Week 2020 will see Manchester Water Safety Partnership focus on helping people stay safe around water in line with the Government’s guidance and restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The dedicated week of action runs from April 20 to April 26 this year and is led by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC) and supported by fire and rescue services all over the UK, including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).

During the week messages will be shared on GMFRS’ social media channels, as well as those of partners, urging people to take extra care around their local waterways while exercising.

Area Manager Paul Fearnhead from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We want to keep everyone safe during lockdown while adhering to Government guidance, which includes practising social distancing and exercising locally once a day.

“Where possible we ask that you stay away from open water, but if you do find yourself near water while exercising then please take extra care and be mindful that there are less people around at the moment to raise the alarm if you find yourself in difficulty.

“We ask if possible that you let someone know where you are going to exercise and when you are coming back and always abide by any signage you see. Also, be sure to look out for hazards around water, stick to proper paths and bear in mind social distancing ahead of venturing out to exercise – often paths along canals and rivers are narrow.

“We also want to remind dog owners never to enter the water if their dog jumps or falls in. Most dogs manage to scramble out but some owners are not so lucky.”

Read more water safety advice from GMFRS.

Follow social media activity during the week using the hashtag #BeWaterAware

The Royal Life Saving Society give suggestions for fun activities to help keep your children entertained at home, while also teaching them about water safety.

The Canal and River Trust also have a selection of fun games for children to enjoy at home.

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Revellers urged to take care near water

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is continuing its mission to keep people safe around water running up to Christmas.

Firefighters have delivered water safety training to managers and landlords of bars close to waterways as part of its plan to educate more people about water safety and prevent drowning incidents, particularly in Manchester city-centre.

Training has taken place around Deansgate Locks jointly delivered by GMFRS and Royal Life Saving Society UK, with support from CityCo and Greater Manchester Police.

The prevention work supports that carried out across the UK by organisations and charities, such as the Royal Life Saving Society UK – which is running its latest Don’t Drink and Drown Campaign from Monday, December 2 until Sunday, December 8.

The main messages of this year’s campaign are for people not to walk home near open water – such as the canals that run through Manchester city-centre – and to stay with their friends after they have been drinking.

Area Manager Damian O’Rourke from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are pleased to be supporting the latest Don’t Drink and Drown campaign and want to take the opportunity to remind people – especially those out drinking in the run up to Christmas – to take extra care around water.

“Our firefighters are trained in water rescue but sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to people in time to save them. We have sadly seen too many people drown in Greater Manchester, with many incidents happening in the canals in the city-centre.

“If you are out enjoying drinks with your friends please never walk along the canals alone and always try and plan your journey home at the start of your night out. It’s also really important to stay together, and if a friend has had one too many then do the right thing and help them to get home safe.”

Following the death of 19-year-old Charlie Pope in March 2018 in Manchester, his father, Nick Pope, has been working closely with the Manchester Water Safety Partnership. Earlier this year barriers were installed along the stretch of canal where Charlie drowned, with the fencing now directing people to cross the canal using an existing footbridge.

Nick attended a student safety event in Manchester on the evening of Thursday, November 28, 2019, organised and led by Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord and attended by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “For the first time all four universities came together to discuss safety for students with a view to creating a Student Safety Charter – which will launch initially at the four Universities across our city-region, with the view to spread it further amongst colleges and other forms of higher education.”

Nick Pope said: “It was a really worthwhile event, which was such a success due to the large attendance, great engagement and searching questions. This can only result in better safety for the students and citizens of Manchester.”

Over the last five years there have been 1,481 accidental deaths in the UK and more than 30 per cent of the victims were found to have alcohol and/or drugs in their bloodstream.

The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign gives essential advice to party-goers to make sure they know how to stay safe when they’re out celebrating.

Follow activity running on social media #DontDrinkAndDrown

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Canal barriers ‘can save lives’

Barriers installed along a canal where a 19-year-old student was found dead will help save lives, his father said.

Nick Pope, whose son Charlie died when he fell into a Manchester canal in March 2018, said he hoped the fencing would “keep people safe in Manchester”.

“Everybody is responsible for their own personal safety but accidents can happen… I firmly believe it will save lives,” said Mr Hope.

The fence will direct people to cross the canal using an existing footbridge.

Charlie, from Ponteland in Northumberland, died after going missing during a night out.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Station Manager David Wilson, who is the Chair of the Manchester Water Safety Partnership, said: “The Manchester Water Safety Partnership was formed in 2015 in response to several deaths in central Manchester waterways, with the group represented by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council, Canal & River Trust, CityCo, the Royal Life Saving Society UK and Peel Holdings. We all meet regularly and work together to help make Manchester’s waterways safer – with the focus on the city-centre, where sadly a number of people have lost their lives over the years.

“The installation of the barriers in key areas along the city-centre canals is a huge step forward to improve water safety for the public of Greater Manchester. Nick Pope, whose son, Charlie, drowned in the city-centre following a night out, deserves great credit for the way he has worked tirelessly to improve water safety over the past year. I would also like to add my personal thanks to everybody who works in and supports the Partnership who have shown an absolute commitment to improving water safety in the city-centre.”

Read about summer water safety advice.

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Safety warnings as temperatures soar

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is urging people to stay safe near water with temperatures set to soar this weekend.

Temperatures could go above 30 degrees this weekend and while we want people to enjoy the hot weather, everyone is asked to do so safely and responsibly.

People are being urged to never swim in open water, as while it may seem like a tempting way to cool off, the drop in temperature can cause shock and increase breathing rate. Muscles will stiffen and fatigue will set in very quickly, making it impossible to swim to safety, even for the strongest of swimmers.

Unknown risks, such as rocks and broken bottles can also be hidden beneath the water and there is often no supervision by lifeguards to help if you if you do get in trouble.

GMFRS Area Manager Damian O’Rourke said: “When it comes to swimming in open water, our message is simple – don’t do it. We know that when it is hot it can be tempting, but is not worth the risk.

“Please go out and enjoy the sunny weather this weekend but don’t put your own or anyone else’s safety at risk. If someone does get into trouble, don’t try and rescue them yourself, but dial 999.”

Read more summer safety advice.

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Orlando Nyero

The family of Orlando Nyero have paid tribute to the ‘caring’ university student, a year after he was found in the Rochdale Canal.

His death in June 2018, along with that of Charlie Pope earlier in the year, helped prompt a campaign calling for a review into safety around Manchester’s waterways.

In a statement his family said: “Orlando you meant so much to us, you cared about everybody and always wanted to help.

“Your smile alone warmed us, your laugh was like music to our ears and you always brighten up the darkest days. Life can never be the same for us without you, we miss your smile, jokes and how caring you were.

“We are left with your beautiful memories, your love is still our guide, although we cannot see you, you are always at our side. It is so hard to describe the amount of pain we experience as a family daily.

“Not a second passes when you’re not in our minds. We weep everyday because the pain is unbearable. But we know that goodbyes are not forever.

“Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean we missed you, until we meet again in heaven. We love and missed you so much Orlando.”

The Royal Life Saving Society UK give the following safety advice about nights out and avoiding water:

  • Look out for each other when you’ve had a few drinks and make sure you walk home with friends
  • Plan your journey home before you go out
  • Don’t walk home alongside the water after a night out. Find a better route home
  • Make sure your friends get home safely after a night out. Don’t let them walk by the water

Read more.

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Drowning Prevention Week

National Drowning Prevention Week is being marked with a host of activities scheduled by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) staff members, to promote safety in and around our waterways.

The dedicated week of action runs from April 29 to May 5 this year – led by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council and supported by fire and rescue services all over the UK.

In the coming weeks there will be three reach-poles installed along the Rochdale Canal, each at or close by to where someone has lost their life through drowning, as part of a partnership including a number or organisations, including GMFRS, Manchester City Council and the Canal and River Trust.

The installation of the poles will follow on from an ongoing initiative, where throwline boards are being installed at a number of reservoirs across Greater Manchester – to help those who find themselves in the water and also provide information which is given to control operators when 999 is dialled – allowing them to send firefighters to the exact location. As part of the initiative, throw-lines will be installed next week in Gorton.

GMFRS staff members and volunteers will  be getting involved in a student-focused event hosted by CityCo in St Ann’s Square in Manchester City Centre on Thursday, May 2, between 10am and 4pm – speaking with attendees to help prevent them getting into trouble around water.

Area Manager Damian O’Rourke from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are really pleased to be supporting Drowning Prevention Week again this year and want to take this is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of water and of the fantastic work our staff members and volunteers do keeping people safe.

“Our firefighters are trained in water rescue but sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to people in time to save them. We have sadly seen 17 people drown Greater Manchester in the last three years alone, with many others suffering injuries.

“As the warmer weather approaches we want to remind people about the dangers that come with swimming in reservoirs and other open water and also about taking care when out and about around canals – such as those in Manchester City Centre, which have sadly claimed too many lives. Please don’t walk alone along canals and always try and plan your journey home at the start of your night out.”

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “As well as installing new equipment to boost safety along our city centre canals, Manchester’s Water Safety Partnership is working hard to ensure that people understand the waterways and how to keep themselves safe.  I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of the events with our firefighters, which will help you to steer clear of danger by becoming water aware.”

Follow social media activity during the week using the hashtag #BeWaterAware

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Water Safety Review

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) was commissioned by members of Manchester Water Safety Partnership (MWSP) to conduct an independent review of open-water safety within the Manchester city centre zone.

The review considered responsibilities, policy expectations and an analysis of fatal and non-fatal events, in addition to an assessment and evaluation of the water bodies within the city centre. The principal output is a series of recommendations with the aim of improving water safety. The review was conducted throughout summer 2018.  

Read the report

Media enquiries

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Winter water safety

Drowning Prevention charity, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has tips to help you know what to do in an emergency.

In winter, children and pets are particularly at risk when tempted to play on the ice formed on open water, and adults can find themselves at risk in attempting to save them.

Taking a nice walk in cold weather with your family, friends or dogs in tow can be really refreshing, just make sure you know some simple tips on how to stay safe in winter.

Areas with frozen lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs can be beautiful places to visit during the winter months but all too often many people risk their lives by venturing onto frozen water.


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