A ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ campaign has been launched by authorities, urging clubbers to stay away from the sea on nights out in Brighton.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service teamed up with the Royal Life Saving Society and local the coastguard to spread the word around the dangers of taking to the water after drinking.
On December 9, Andrea Janes, the fire service’s water safety co-ordinator, joined the team to head out on the town and spread the word around the dangers of taking to the water after drinking.
Banners, posters behind toilet doors and in front of urinals, as well as lanyards were handed out, along with beer mats set-up prior to the evening event. Don’t Drink and Drown t-shirts were also handed out to nightclub staff in a bid to spread the safety message to party-goers. The team targeted the message to more than 5,000 people in Brighton clubs alone.
Ms Janes said: “The aim of speaking with nightclubbers was to raise the awareness of the dangers of being near water under the influence of alcohol.
“In this environment you are in a more vulnerable state and it can affect your judgement, as well as severely affecting your ability to survive in the water. Alcohol makes you more confident but less co-ordinated, which places you in a dangerous situation in the water.
“We were also asking people to look after each other and make sure they get themselves and friends home safely and not walk near water.
“Another person spoke of losing a friend a couple of years ago abroad, due to drinking and drowning, which made him more aware of the dangers of being around water when under the influence.”
Brighton was targeted by the team because figures show that 70 per cent of people who accidentally drown in this area were female and had alcohol in their bloodstream.
The city is also renowned for attracting holidaymakers, university students, as well as stag and hen parties, where alcohol is prevalent, the fire service said.
Ms Janes added: “At the end of the night we witnessed one man who was so drunk that he was spotted crawling across the beach to get a drink from the sea.
“Part of the job of The Resolve Beach Patrol security is to patrol Brighton seafront on a quad bike, looking out for anyone who could potentially place themselves in danger and on this occasion they came to the rescue of this man. The quad bike is equipped with a first aid kit, defibrillator and thermal blankets. Also, the Resolve Security Beach Patrol Project is a visual deterrent and safety measure to protect vulnerable people during nights out.
“The main aim of the campaign is to protect those who endanger lives of themselves or others through entering the sea whilst being in a vulnerable state. Staff work closely with the coastguards and the seafront clubs and door staff to ensure that any vulnerable people that leave their premises are kept safe, and do not venture down to the lower part of the beach.
“At the beginning of the evening we were able to have sensible conversations with people, many who actively engaged with us and agreed to wear the wristbands and take a safety selfie, to put on social media. However, by the end of the evening we saw people’s behaviour deteriorate and witnessed how they put themselves at risk. It is not uncommon for people to end up at the water’s edge crying, following a relationship break-up, as well as urinating at the water’s edge which is particularly dangerous if the sea is rough when large waves can drag you off the beach.
“We were trying to raise awareness that cold water shock can occur if you have been drinking, as well as losing control of your muscles and alongside drinking can be dangerous.”
Dawn Whittaker, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy chief fire officer and drowning prevention lead for the Chief Fire Officer’s Association, said: “We are very lucky to have beautiful coastline and rivers in our area however after a drink or two, people’s awareness of danger decreases. We want everyone to come home safely after celebrating this festive season.”