Warning from drowning prevention charity and mother of tragic Megan Roberts after another man missing in River Ouse

03 April 2014

The Royal Life Saving Society UK teams up with student’s mother to urge people to think as third person thought drowned in York.

The UK’s drowning prevention charity and the mother of tragic Megan Roberts have issued a joint warning after a third person was reported missing in the River Ouse in York this morning (April 3).

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has been working with Jackie Roberts since her 20-year-old daughter tragically drowned in the River in January and her body was discovered last month.

And, as the charity was in talks with on a potential national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of inland water, and drinking and the risk of drowning, it was announced today that a search has begun for a man last seen entering the river at around 2.30am and not seen to leave the water.

Director of Lifesaving at the RLSS UK, Adrian Lole, said: “It is deeply concerning to hear that a man is missing, last seen entering the River Ouse, and we are hoping search teams will find him safe and well.

“However, with two tragic drownings in this river in the last few months and news of the missing man this morning, we are urging people to please listen to water safety advice and acknowledge the considerable dangers that can be associated with open water.

“We have been working with Jackie over the past few weeks with a view to adding to our existing awareness campaigns, with specific focus on water safety around inland water and drinking and the risk of drowning in light of Megan’s death.”

Jackie Roberts added: “I am working with the RLSS UK as my daughter’s life meant so much and I want to do something in respect to her and to prevent further tragedies.

“I am devastated to hear that one more person may have lost their lives, so close to where Megan lost hers, and this makes me even more determined to do something to make people consider the dangers and the risks they face around water, particularly if walking home after a night out or drinking.”

The RLSS UK is also working with York St John students’ union to make sure messages reach local residents and students.

York St John University student Megan Roberts’ body was found in the Ouse at Acaster Malbis. She is thought to have fallen into the river near Lendal Bridge.

Ben Clarkson, 22, a former student at the university, disappeared after a night out with a colleague in York on Saturday, March 1 and his body was found in the River Foss on March 21.

Last weekend, it has been reported that a man was also pulled from the Ouse after jumping from Lendal Bridge.

Adrian added: “We work continuously all year round to educate and inform people around water safety and we will continue to work with Jackie to help drive our messages home. We want people to enjoy water but safely and will continue campaign tirelessly to do all we can to avoid as many further drowning as possible both in York and across the UK and Ireland.

“Taking advice could mean the difference between life and death.”

There are around 260 accidental drowning deaths in inland waters in Britain each year – about 60 per cent of the total number of accidental water deaths.

Follow the below advice and take note of the dangers to avoid becoming one of the statistics:

Don’t:

  • Swim at unsupervised (un-lifeguarded sites)
  • Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature
  • Jump into the water from extreme heights
  • Swim into deep water which will be colder
  • Ever drink and swim
  • Walk alone on routes you may not know that may be close to open water

Do:

  • Swim at supervised (lifeguarded) sites
  • Swim parallel with the shore, where you can quickly get to safety
  • Swim with friends or family, so that you can help each other if you need to
  • Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you are swimming
  • Think about what you will do if something goes wrong
  • Contact a reputable outdoor pursuits or coasteering centre if you want to take part in more extreme activities
  • Stick with your friends
  • Complete a lifesaving award that includes self rescue techniques

Dangers of open water include:

  • The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning
  • The depth of the water – this changes and is unpredictable
  • Submerged objects may not be visible
  • Obstacles or other people in the water
  • Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue
  • The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
  • Uneven banks and river beds
  • Water quality eg toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution
  • All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.

If someone is in difficulty in the water:

  • Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
  • Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float.
  • Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety

RLSS UK recently launched a free counselling support service a forum for anyone affected by drowning. For more details visit www.rlssuksupport.org.uk

 

For all media enquires please contact Porcha Treanor – Communications Manager:
Email: porchatreanor@rlss.org.uk
Tel: 01789 774 495
Mobile: 07884 498 325