Stay safe around the water this festive season – don’t drink and drown

Published: Monday, 2nd December 2019

As we approach the busy festive party season, revellers in the city are urged to take extra care when near water, with the launch of a national safety campaign today (Monday 2 December 2019).

Every year, someone drowns in our inland waterways and there are many more near-misses where tragedy is narrowly avoided. Often, these incidents involve that person having drunk excessive alcohol or being under the influence of drugs.

Oxford City Council is supporting the national Royal Life Saving Society’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, urging the public to enjoy themselves, but take extra care around the waterways, drink responsibly and to look after your friends when on a night out.

“As the festive season approaches, Oxford’s city centre has a bustling night-life. Students celebrating the end of terms and exams with social events and those of us out with work colleagues, friends and family.

“The city is built on waterways – the Thames and Cherwell rivers, the canal, and many streams all flow through and near our city centre, its pubs, clubs and restaurants. These are fantastic parts of our city, but when it’s dark, late at night and you’ve had a few drinks, they can have real risks.

“We urge everyone to enjoy the season responsibly, look after themselves and their friends, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Most importantly, don’t drink and drown.”

Tim Wiseman, Oxford City Council's Waterways Coordinator. 

Eighteen people have accidentally drowned in Oxfordshire over the last five years and four of these were found to have had alcohol and/or drugs in their system. 

Our advice is to:

  • look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
  • find an alternative route home, don’t walk home near the water
  • stay away from the water in winter; cold water shock kills
  • call 999 and ask for the fire service in an emergency 

Be aware of the effects of alcohol on the body:  

  • alcohol lowers inhibitions leading to impaired judgement, which means you are more likely to take risks and get in 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 making swimming very difficult.

View the Royal Life Saving Society’s video.