East Sussex revellers have been told ‘don’t drink and drown’ after it was ranked one of the highest in the UK for alcohol-related drownings.
And new research by the UK’s drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) found it was top for drink-related drownings in people aged 17 to 29.
The statistics were revealed as part of the charity’s ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ campaign, which urges people to stay away from water during or after a night out.
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Hannah Wiggins-Bettles, RLSS UK community drowning prevention coordinator for East Sussex, said: “People tragically die each year because they’ve entered the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident. Drinking near or in water can be a dangerous and deadly cocktail. Alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.
“When walking home from a night out, avoid routes that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and always stay with and look out for your friends.
“We want everyone to have a great time this Christmas and our 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.”
East Sussex was considered a high-risk county by RLSS UK after stats revealed 48 people accidentally drowned in the last five years and 13 of these (27 per cent) were found to have had alcohol in their system.
East Sussex was the fourth highest county for alcohol-related drownings in the UK.
Statistics also found that East Sussex had the highest rate of alcohol-related drowning incidences amongst 17 to 29-year-olds in the UK, with seven of the 17 drownings (41 per cent) relating to drowning.
The Brighton Beach Patrol reported that so far this year 535 intoxicated people were stopped from entering the water and 188 intoxicated people were encouraged to leave the water. These figures don’t include the Pride Weekend, where 236 interventions took place.
As part of the campaign, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service will be hosting a gazebo on Brighton Pier on December 7, talking to passers-by about water safety. Door staff at local bars will be supporting the campaign and looking out for vulnerable people and Sussex Night Owls will be warning people about the dangers of walking near water whilst intoxicated.
Susan Taylor, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Water safety coordinator, said: “We’re really pleased to be supporting the RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign. We will start the afternoon with an information point in the Brighton Pier area, with support from the local fire fighters, a Fire Engine will also be present.
“Intervention is what’s needed to prevent incidents from occurring, so we will be sharing information about the dangers of entering water when under the influence of alcohol, which is particularly prevalent around Christmas. It is also a good time to start thinking about how long alcohol takes to leave your system.
“Working in conjunction with our partner agencies, talking to people who might have considered entering the water is a great, friendly way of engage with our target audience.”
Don’t Drink and Drown, this year running from December 3-9, was launched in 2014 following a string of incidents which saw young people drowning.
Research indicated that around a quarter of all adult drowning victims had alcohol in their bloodstream and RLSS UK were keen to prevent more tragedies by providing a strategic approach in hot spot areas.
For more information on RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, visit: www.rlss.org.uk