Festive drinkers in Ramsgate and Margate are being urged to look after their friends on a night out to prevent drink and drug related drownings.
As part of the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2-8 December, local organisations have joined together to ask the towns’ revellers to stick together during their festivities and not to let any of their friends walk home alone.
Latest statistics reveal 53 people have accidentally drowned in Kent over the last five years and 32% of these (17) were found to have had alcohol and/or drugs in their system, making it the second highest county for drownings linked to intoxication.
On Thursday 5 and Friday 6 December, representatives from RLSS UK, Thanet RNLI, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent Police, HM Coastguard and Street Pastors will be out and about talking to bar staff, taxi drivers and members of the public about keeping people safe whilst under the influence.
The organisations will also be sharing the RLSS UK’s brand-new film which shows how easily a fun night out can turn into tragedy, and how staying with your friends can make all the difference.
Nationally there were 1,4581 accidental drowning deaths in the UK between 2014-2018 and more than 30% of the victims had alcohol and/or drugs in their bloodstream*. Many of them drowned because they walked home alone and fell in the water.
Hannah Wiggins-Bettles, RLSS UK Community Drowning Prevention Coordinator for the Kent area, said: “It’s a sad truth that the number of drownings increase in the winter period, more often than not because of intoxication.
“Families, friends and whole communities are left devastated every year because someone walks home alone whilst under the influence and falls into the water. We’re urging people to stay together on a night out. Make sure their friends get home safe and don’t let them walk anywhere, especially near water, alone.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager for Customer Safety, Colin King, said: “It only takes a small amount of alcohol to impact your ability to save yourself in water. Even strong swimmers with no alcohol in their system could struggle if they fell into a river, due to underwater currents and the effects of cold water shock, which includes involuntary inhalation and can result in drowning. So if you fall in after just a drink or two, you’re likely to drown because your reaction times are reduced, instincts are skewed and coordination is impacted. Have fun this Christmas, but please take care and think before you drink near water.”
Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Andy Mills said: “We are happy to support this critically important campaign and hope that everyone stays safe.”
The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2 to 8 December, was launched in 2014 following a string of tragic drownings of young people. RLSS UK was keen to prevent more tragedies, by targeting at risk groups in hot spot areas, at particular points in the year where alcohol related drowning incidences increase – September (at the start of the new university term) and December (during the festive period).
As part of the campaign, organisations up and down the country promote water safety messaging and run awareness activities urging revellers to take care near water whilst under the influence of alcohol and/or.