A new initiative is warning students to steer clear of open water when under the influence of alcohol when they return to university.

Drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society UK this week launched its Don’t Drink and Drown initiative to warn drinkers, particularly students, to act responsibly near water after they’ve been drinking, and to make sure they and their friends avoid walking home near bodies of water.

Figures state that between a quarter and half of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream and alcohol is present in around a third to two-thirds of people who drown in swimming and boating accidents.

The Don’t Drink and Drown initiative will see messages and posters being promoted at universities, in pubs and across social media sites.

A launch event is taking place at the University of York swimming pool on Thursday 2 October, 10am. Students are invited to attend the free lifesaving session to learn and test out their lifesaving and self-rescue skills.

The launch event follows the inquest, on October 1, of York student Megan Roberts who tragically drowned after a night out earlier this year.

The York St John university student, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, disappeared during a night out with friends in January. It is believed she became separated from friends and fell into the river Ouse near York’s Lendal Bridge.

Megan’s mother Jackie Roberts has been working with RLSS UK on a number of projects over the past few months.

“I’m finding it is so important for me that Meg’s memory is kept alive and channelling my energy into making something positive seem right” Jackie said.

“When you lose someone that you love so dearly, it is too big to accept, you can’t let it be true. The only thing you can do is keep their memory alive by enlarging yourself and channelling your grief into something good.”

“Megan is such a devastating loss to a lot of people. It has rocked the community.”

“Megan was so beautiful. She was a very bright girl with a wicked sense of humour and a wilful side, mixed with shyness and an innocence that made her seem vulnerable sometimes. She had a lot of friends…she was loved. She was just a beautiful person inside and out.”

RLSS UK Acting Chief Executive, said: “Drinking and/or taking drugs near or in water can be a dangerous and deadly cocktail. Alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.”

“At the RLSS UK we work hard to inform and educate people of the dangers and would say to never go into water when you have been drinking and always take care and be aware if you are near water.

“We would also ask people to, wherever possible, avoid routes home from a night out drinking that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and to always stick with and look out for your friends.”

The RLSS UK works tirelessly to promote drowning prevention messages and deliver water safety education nationally, as well as offering a range of awards and programmes that teach lifesaving skills to all ages.