A new group formed by emergency services and charities in Manchester has launched to cut drowning fatalities by half in the next 10 years.
The Manchester Water Safety Forum brings together firefighters, police, council, and life-saving groups to end the headlines about “deadly” canals and rivers in the city centre.
Door staff will be trained to spot people in trouble, and defibrillators will be installed near the water’s edge to help emergency services called to these kinds of incidents.
Authorities are also backing the Royal Lifesaving Society’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about alcohol-fuelled injury and death in waterways across the country.
Around 400 people die every year from accidental drowning in the UK.
The chairman of the forum, Greater Manchester Fire Station Manager David Wilson, said firefighters rescued more people from canals and rivers in Manchester city centre than anywhere else.
“Sometimes when our crew rescue people from canals or rivers in the city centre the people they save are so drunk they don’t even know how they ended up in the water – ultimately we need people to take care of themselves and their friends on a night out.
“We are very lucky to have such a fantastic network of waterways across the city centre, but these places can be become deadly at night after someone has had a few drinks.
“Around 25 per cent of people who drown have alcohol in their system and statistics from across the UK show that Saturday nights have the highest number of drownings than any other night of the week.”
RLSS UK’s Deputy Director of Education and Research, Mike Dunn added: “Ever year thousands suffer injury, some life-changing, through near-drowning experiences and a third of all 18 to 21-year-old drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream.”
“We are thrilled this multi-agency partnership in Manchester is backing RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign and messages and is going to continue to educate local people on water safety and give vital awareness on how to stay safe near.
“It will potentially save lives.”
The group is being launched as part of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week.
CFOA is a member of the National Water Safety Forum who have produced a strategy to reduce accidental drowning fatalities in the UK by 50 per cent by 2026.