East Sussex fire service launches Safer Spring campaign as lockdown eases

The fire service for East Sussex has launched the Safer Spring campaign as lockdown restrictions are slowly eased.

From March 29 two households or six people can meet up outside to socialise as part of the next step of the road map out of lockdown.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue said it is likely people will be making trips to waterside locations and having barbecues and picnics with family and friends.

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A spokesperson for the service said, “Following reports of forest fires starting earlier than normal this year, we want to raise awareness of the dangers of fires from BBQs, campfires and cigarettes.”

Two households with up to six people can now meet outdoors, as lockdown restrictions are relaxed in England (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images) SUS-210329-152004001

David Kemp, head of community safety, said, “Even a small barbecue or open fire can get out of control if not set up or looked after properly.

“You should always keep them well away from bushes or buildings and ensure young children and ball games are at a safe distance.

“Make sure you keep any spare charcoal somewhere safe and only use recommended fluids or firelighters. Make sure your BBQ or fire is completely out and cold once you have finished with it by dowsing it with water.

“Always extinguish cigarettes properly and never throw lit cigarettes out of car windows as they can ruin whole fields of crops and start forest fires.”

The service has issued to following advice. If a fire breaks out:

• Call 999 immediately.

• It can be hard to give the location for an open area so mention any landmarks, such as a public house or a church in the vicinity. Alternatively, you can identify your location using the What3Words app.

• Don’t tackle fires yourself. Always leave it to the professionals.

Remaining safe by the water is another message the service is sharing as part of the campaign.

According to the National Water Safety Forum, in 2019 there were 223 accidental drownings in the UK. Nearly half of those who accidentally drown hadn’t intended to enter the water and 82 per cent were men.

Over the last three years, the south east had the third highest number of accidental drownings after Scotland and the south west.

Susan Taylor, the service’s water and road safety coordinator, said, “A quarter of people who drowned were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so if you are drinking or taking drugs, stay with friends and plan a route home that is not near water.”

To stay safe by the water, the fire service said people should take the following precautions:

• Carry a phone when going out and if you are going out alone, tell someone where you’re going and when you will be back.

• Obey any warning or safety signs. Look out for trip or slip hazards around water and stick to proper pathways. Remember river banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way.

• Don’t fool around near water, especially if you have been drinking, and look out for each other.

If someone falls into deep water:

• Call 999 straight away, ask for the fire service and explain where you are. If you are unsure of the location, look for landmarks, check maps on your phone, or use the What3Words app.

• Don’t hang up, stay on the line but try to continue to help the person if you can.

• Once you’ve made the call, shout for help from anyone who might be close by.

• Don’t enter the water yourself to try to save someone. You are likely to go into shock if you go into cold water which will leave you unable to help, even if you are a strong swimmer.

• Look around for any lifesaving equipment there might be such as lifebelts or throw bags. If they are attached to a rope, make sure you hold or secure the end so you can pull the person in. If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use – even a ball can help.

• If you manage to get the person out of the water, they will always need medical attention – even if they seem fine. They may have hyperthermia or water in the lungs.

• If you fall in the water, resist the urge to thrash around and try to float on your back. Only once you are floating call for help or try to steer with your arms towards shore.

More information is available at https://www.esfrs.org/