The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the drowning prevention charity, will urge revellers to steer clear of canals, lakes and rivers while out celebrating this Christmas and New Year.

Staff and volunteers from the charity, dressed in striking lifeguard uniforms, will hand out information about its Don’t Drink and Drown campaign in Birmingham on Thursday (December 11) alerting them to the fact that alcohol and open water can be a deadly cocktail.

Passers-by will be invited to spread the message online by posing for a selfie with a lifebuoy and lifeguard and tweeting it to RLSS UK using the hashtag #DontDrinkandDrown.

The event is part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking near open water.

Figures show that between a quarter and a half of all adults who drown have alcohol in their bloodstreams.

Don’t Drink and Drown calls on drinkers to act responsibly near water and highlights how alcohol can seriously affect your ability to survive if you go in.

It also provides advice on staying safe, by suggesting people avoid walking home near canals and rivers after a night out.

RLSS UK’s chief executive, Di Steer, said: “It’s easy to forget the dangers when you’re having a good time but drinking near open water can be a deadly cocktail.

“Not only can it mean you’re more likely to take risks and fall in but if you do end up in water it can seriously impede your ability to survive.

“So whether you’re going to an office party or having a night out with friends this Christmas or New Year we ask you to take note of our campaign and stay safe by avoiding open water when drinking.”

Flyers will be handed out to over-18s around Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Markets in New Street and Centenary Square on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The campaign will also be taken to Broad Street and The Arcadian in Hurst Street, both popular drinking destinations.

The event is being sponsored by Greggs the bakery.

RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign was launched in October after an inquest into the death of university student Megan Roberts.

The 20-year-old, from Wetherby in West Yorkshire, drowned in January after falling into the River Ouse in York after a night out with friends.

Megan’s mother Jackie, who is supporting RLSS UK’s work, said: “Shortly after Christmas 2013 my beautiful daughter Megan went missing after a night out.

“Almost six weeks later her body was found in the River Ouse.

“Facing Christmas without Meg this year is unbearable.

“Please do everything you can to prevent another family going through the same devastating loss by planning your route home to avoid waterways.

“Falling into or attempting to swim in cold open water, especially at this time of the year and after drinking is likely to be fatal.

“So enjoy your night out but stick together and get home safely.”

Don’t Drink and Drown Advice

Avoid happy hour turning into a nightmare by following these tips from RLSS UK:

Stay Safe

  • Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in
  • Look out for your friends – make sure they get home safely
  • Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking
  • Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble

Effects of alcohol

  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to impaired judgment which means you are more likely to take risks and get into trouble
  • Alcohol limits muscle ability making simple movements much harder
  • Alcohol slows down your reactions making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
  • Alcohol numbs the senses particularly sight, sound and touch making swimming very difficult