Drowning is bigger killer than house fires in West Yorkshire

Startling figures reveal that drowning is a bigger killer than house fires in West Yorkshire, with nine deaths taking place in one year.

Make the right call - call 999

Now West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has joined forces with other fire and rescue services locally and nationally urging people to heed the dangers of open water.


The campaign, led nationally by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC) is being backed locally by Yorkshire Water, which own many of the bodies of water across the county, including where some of the drownings have occurred. This warning comes as part of national Be Water Aware week this week.


Scott Donegan, Service Delivery Area Manager at the fire service, said figures show that men and boys are at more risk of drowning than women and girls. “From the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) figures we can see that locally and nationally males are far more likely to die from drowning – in West Yorkshire 89 per cent of fatalities were male.


“Our aim is to reduce accidental drowning fatalities in West Yorkshire by 50 per cent from 2021 incident levels by 2026. This project will include making young people aware of the risks around open water and we will also engage with businesses and partners involved in the night-time economy.”


This year WYFRS aims to reduce accidental drownings in the county and one way to do that will be increasing the awareness of the risk of drowning while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.


Teenage boys are also at risk of drowning with figures showing that in 2021 the second highest number of deaths were in the 15 to 19-year-old age group, with 16 boys dying nationally, compared to zero girls.


Earlier this month a14-year-old drowned after jumping into the River Aire in Leeds while out walking along the towpath. Also, in July last year 16-year-old Alfie McCraw died after getting into difficulty in water at Linton Road in Wakefield. Then in July 2021 Caden Taylor, 15, drowned in a canal in Knottingley, Wakefield.


AM Donegan said: “When people find themselves unexpectedly in water their instinct is to swim, but cold water shock can make them gasp and breathe in water. Instead, they should Float to Live – fight the urge to thrash around, lean back and extend your arms and legs and float until you can control your breathing. Only then should you get help or swim to safety.”


Almost 50 per cent of people still don’t know to call 999 when they see someone struggling in the water, with many people panicking and following their instinct to jump in and help. If you see someone in trouble make the right call – call 999!


CALL and ask for Fire and Rescue TELL them to float on their back THROW them something that floats. #RespectTheWater #BeWaterAware


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