Hard-hitting new film encourages people to ‘Be Water Wise’ this summer

A hard-hitting water safety film has been launched by Wakefield District Water Safety Group to mark Drowning Prevention Week (17-24 June) and help educate people on the dangers of swimming in open water.

Representatives from Wakefield Council, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, West Yorkshire Police, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Canal & River Trust and Wakefield Safeguarding Children Partnership teamed up to produce the ‘Be Water Wise’ film, which aims to reduce water-related incidents and fatalities by telling the stories of three fictional individuals and the impact their deaths have on those left behind.

Paul Daly, Wakefield District Commander at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We hope this video will encourage people to have conversations around water safety, share advice and help keep incidents to a minimum, so everyone can enjoy the summer safely. Our advice would be to stick to designated swimming areas and not be tempted to cool off in any other open water.

Across West Yorkshire, there were seven water fatalities in 2022 and the number of people who have drowned in open water is on the increase right across the country.    

Cllr Jack Hemingway, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “Two of our young people lost their lives after drowning last summer. And we’ve already had a heart-breaking reminder, of what can happen, with another tragic death less than a month ago.

“We want to do all we can to help educate young people and families to the dangers, to help people stop and think of what could happen and help save a life.”

Paul added: “There are numerous hazards and risks that can affect even the most advanced swimmers. Always pay attention to safety and warning signs; even water that looks still can be dangerous below the surface.

“If you do find yourself in trouble in the water, remember ‘Float to Live’ – extend your arms, lay back into the water, control your breathing and shout for help.”

Swimming in open water is extremely dangerous and even the most experienced swimmers can find themselves in difficulty. Our advice at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is to:

  • Stick to designated swimming areas and do not be tempted to cool off in any other open water
  • If someone is in trouble in the water in West Yorkshire (or inland), dial 999 and ask for FIRE
  • If you get into trouble, float to live: extend your arms, lay back into the water, control your breathing and shout for help
  • Cold-water shock can kill even on a hot day, even for strong swimmers
  • Hidden dangers beneath in non-designated swimming areas can be fatal, even in areas you may have swum before.

The ‘Be Water Wise’ video will be shared on social media by the partners of Wakefield District Water Safety Group to coincide with Drowning Prevention Week, and throughout summer. It will also be sent to schools and colleges, along with supporting resources, for use in water safety education, as well as being made available for all local authorities and water safety groups across the country.

More information on water safety can be found on the #BeWaterAware page on West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service’s website and also on www.wakefieldscp.org.uk/professionals/water-safety/. The RNLI’s short respect the water and float to live videos are also great for getting the message across to young people.