Music lovers are being urged to consider their own safety and to look out for others around open water whilst at festivals this summer.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the drowning prevention charity, has warned that a cocktail of water with drink or drugs – or both – does not mix and wants people to enjoy their favourite bands in the open air safely.

The message comes after more than 30 people lost their lives to drowning in just seven weeks during last summer’s heatwave.

And with festivals being fantastic places to let your hair down and enjoy music, often amidst the natural beauty of the countryside and scenery, people are often tempted to cool off in any lakes, rivers, reservoirs or water features that may be around the site.

Mark Smith, Board of Trustee Member of the RLSS UK, acts as Water Safety Advisor to the UK’s major festivals said people must be aware of the dangers when at festivals and highlights the fact that more people drown in inland waters than at coastal locations or at sea.

“Festivals are a great part of UK culture and there really is something for everyone, from long-standing massive rock festivals to new boutique events.

“But open water at these events should not be treated as an extra form of entertainment as swimming under the influence of alcohol or drugs is highly dangerous, without the inherent dangers in open water, such as unknown depths, very cold water, currents and debris to name a few.

At the RLSS UK we want people to enjoy water safety and, increasingly, events like the Wilderness Festival, are opening up their water in response to public demand for outdoor swimming. By putting lifeguards in place it encourages people who have maybe only ever swum in their local indoor pool to try something new. We urge people to go to these such events if they want to experience open water swimming.”

Mark added an example of a festival where swimming is really not an option is the Reading Festival. To reduce congestion in the town organisers use off-site car parks and bring festival goers to the arena by boat. With that volume of heavy river traffic, mixed with normal dangers like river currents and cold water, entering the water is highly dangerous.

Top festival water safety tips:

  • Never swim in open water if under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Be aware of areas of open water either in or on the way to or from the festival – at least 22 per cent of people who drown fall into the water by accident
  • Only swim in open water at festivals where lifeguards are present or special provision is made
  • Never cross open water in an attempt to get to or from the campsite more quickly or shortcut to other areas
  • Know what to do if someone gets into trouble in the water (see below)
  • Supervise children closely
  • Take notice of warning signs
  • Always stay with a friend

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) – also send someone to the nearest medical tent or St John’s ambulance staff
  • 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