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Over 80 people drown in Cornwall's waters in five years

Over 80 people drown in Cornwall's waters in five years

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:32am 15th December 2018. (Updated at 12:31pm 17th December 2018)

Police figures show more than 80 people have drowned in Cornwall's waters in the last five years.

Worryingly, one in eight people of those who lost their lives had been drinking.

Now businesses in the Duchy are getting training to help save lives and prevent people drowning after drinking alcohol.

The training is part of the #CoastSafe campaign led by the Duchy's police, fire service and Coastguard crews.

Staff from restaurants and bars on Porthleven harbour were taught how to be a first responder if they spot someone in trouble,.

It was carried out during the Royal Life Saving Society's 'Don't Drink and Drown' week.

As well as the opportunity to become accredited waterside community responders, staff will wear t-shirts and display beer mats in their businesses with the #DontDrinkandDrown message. 

The campaign was started to educate and inform people of the dangers of alcohol related drownings after several tragic student deaths.

“This initiative is aimed at being pro-active, we are joining with partners again to re-affirm a message that drowning statistics are too high, a great deal are preventable, we want to reduce the amount of harm suffered by people on our coasts.  

"Look after each other, alcohol and water don’t mix and can lead to tragedy.”

Sergeant Andy Mulhern, Devon and Cornwall Police

Throw lines and other rescue tools are available to Portheleven businesses in the hope they wil be able to provide immediate lifesaving intervention, if someone does fall into the water.

Cornish businesses are getting training to prevent alcohol-related drownings, particularly during the festive season.

“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.”

Hannah Wiggnis-Bettles, Devon and Cornwall's Drowning Prevention Coordinator 

The advice from the #CoastSafe collaboration is:

  • Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking
  • Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble
  • Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
  • Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in

If you see someone in trouble immediately call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

What should I do if I end up in the water?

Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement, so the risk is significant most of the year.

Average UK and Ireland sea temperatures are just 12°C. Rivers such as the Thames are colder - even in the summer.

Cold water shock causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, which increases the resistance of blood flow. Heart rate is also increased. As a result the heart has to work harder and your blood pressure goes up. Cold water shock can therefore cause heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy.

The sudden cooling of the skin by cold water also causes an involuntary gasp for breath. Breathing rates can change uncontrollably, sometimes increasing as much as tenfold. All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic, increasing the chance of inhaling water directly into the lungs.

This can all happen very quickly: it only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs for a fully grown man to start drowning. You could die if you don't get medical care immediately.

You can read more advice from the RNLI here or watch how to 'Float to Live'...

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