Situational awareness: Water survival guidance

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with Situational awareness: Survival guidance

There are several factors which may affect the advice given to callers by fire control personnel, these include:

  • Type of water, for example:
    • Lake
    • River
    • Flood water
  • How people are trapped, such as:
    • Entanglement in water
    • Surrounded by water
    • In water
  • Speed and depth of the water
  • Temperature of the water
  • Location of the person in the water in relation to solid ground
  • How long the person has been in the water
  • The reason the person has entered the water
  • Condition of the person, for example if they are suffering from cold water shock or hypothermia
  • Predicted weather, tidal or river level forecasts
  • Confidence of the person in water and their swimming ability
  • Whether the person in the water has a flotation aid, such as:
    • A lifejacket
    • A lifebelt
    • A piece of watersports equipment
  • Available water rescue equipment which may be used to assist, including:
    • Life rings and other buoyancy aids
    • Throwlines

During a situation involving people at risk trapped in or by water, conditions can change rapidly. Therefore, it is important to continually reassess the situation to ensure that advice given remains appropriate.

The speed and depth of water may be difficult for people to judge without putting themselves at risk. Speed of water can be judged based on a comparison to walking speed and depth can be compared to objects in the water, for example the water level against a building or a walking stick in the water. These comparisons should only be used where it is safe for people to do so.

Risk information for locations that are affected by tidal influences will assist fire control personnel to identify tidal waters and enable them to gather relevant tidal information.

Fire and rescue services should receive notification of weather warnings, tide predictions and river levels. Information may be provided by environmental agencies, the Met Office, the Rivers Agency, or local water management groups such as the Canal Trust or local drainage board; some will also be accessible via the Met Office Hazard Manager. This information should be used to assist in building situational awareness, as well as identifying a change in situation or potential escalation of the incident.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions