The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ campaign is being rolled out across Swansea this week, with visits to thousands of students and busy city centre nightspots.
Partners supporting the campaign in Swansea include RLSS UK the Drowning Prevention Charity, Swansea University, South Wales Police, Swansea Council, Drugaid Swansea and the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
A ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ campaign information stand will be set up at Swansea University’s Singleton campus on Monday 25 April, Swansea University’s Bay campus on Tuesday 26 April and the University of Wales Trinity St David campus on Wednesday 27 April. Campaign beer mats and posters will be distributed.
Campaign representatives will then visit nightspots including Sin City on Dilwyn Street and Revolution on Wind Street during the evenings of Wednesday 27 April and Thursday 28April, where they’ll chat with people in queues and hand out campaign wristbands.
Di Steer, RLSS UK Chief Executive, said: “People die each year after entering the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident. A third of all 18 to 21-year-old drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream. Drinking near or in water can be dangerous and a deadly cocktail. Alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.
“At RLSS UK we work hard to inform and educate people of the dangers and advise the public to never go into water when you have been drinking and always take care and be aware if you are near 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.
“This multi-agency partnership in Swansea will warn people to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol and will give vital awareness to stay safe when they are on nights out. It will potentially save lives.”
Lee Trundle, Swansea City Club Ambassador, is also backing the campaign. He said: “It’s a fantastic campaign that aims to tackle a serious issue in Swansea. It’s great for the Swans Community Trust to get fully behind it and I’m proud to show my support.”
Ian Owen, of the Swansea City AFC Community Trust, said: “We’re only too pleased to help raise awareness around this campaign. Hopefully we can together encourage people to act responsibly.”
PC Andy Phillips, Universities Liaison Officer at South Wales Police, said: “We are supporting the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign in Swansea to raise awareness of the risks of drowning while under the influence of alcohol.
“I have recently met with the families of the young men who lost their lives in devastating circumstances and they support our efforts to prevent any further tragedies from happening.
“We will be doing everything we can to highlight the dangers so that young people can look after themselves and their friends to stay safe.”
Andrew Suter, from Swansea Council’s Water Safety Team, said: “Alcohol makes people more confident, but less co-ordinated. It also impairs judgement, makes people more likely to take risks, numbs people’s senses and slows down reactions. If you’ve had too much to drink, then it makes swimming your way out of trouble especially difficult if you’ve fallen or slipped into a body of water.
“This partnership campaign is urging people to remember the dangers posed by too much alcohol if their walk home after a night out takes them alongside or close to a body of water. We’re also calling on people to keep an eye out for their friends to make sure they get home safely, too.
“We’ll be speaking to hundreds of people this week in the build-up to a campaign re-launch at the start of the new academic term in September.”
Kevin Child, Director of Student Services at Swansea University, said: “Swansea University is delighted to be part of the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign. We’re fortunate that both our University campuses have a unique location just a stone’s throw from the beach, and so any initiative which raises awareness amongst our students of the associated dangers of alcohol consumption and water use is strongly supported by us.”
Adam Whitehouse, of Drugaid Swansea, said: “At Drugaid Cymru, we have been helping individuals and communities tackle drug and alcohol problems in South Wales for well over 30 years. We are very pleased to be involved with our partners across Swansea in raising awareness of the risks of walking near waterways while under the influence of alcohol. If we can help reduce the real impacts of alcohol-related drowning fatalities or near drownings in Swansea, then we’d be very proud.”
Steve Richards, of the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We’re supporting this campaign because it will help educate people about the dangers of drinking near water.
“We’d ask people to enjoy their nights out responsibly but to remember that it only takes a split second for happy hour to become a nightmare. Stay safe and get help if you’ve had too much to drink, or are with someone else who has. Don’t enter the water if you’ve had too much to drink and don’t walk home near water.
“We’d also encourage people to make use of the multi-agency Help Point at the Strand car park in Swansea city centre, which is available for anyone who may be injured or vulnerable while on a night out in Swansea. It’s a safe place where people can receive treatment, sober up or wait until they can be reunited with friends or family to get home safely.”
RLSS UK figures show an average of 400 people drown every year in the UK. The figures also show a quarter of all adult drowning victims have had alcohol in their bloodstreams.
A 2016 Public Health Wales report into child and young people drowning fatalities in Wales showed that 33% involved alcohol.