On Thursday 2nd October the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK launched their latest campaign, Don’t Drink and Drown, at the University of York. The campaign aims to caution drinkers, particularly students, to act responsibly near water after a night out, including avoiding walking near bodies of water on the way home.
RLSS UK is a drowning prevention charity which promotes messages and posters at universities, in pubs and on social media to encourage students to sign up to lifesaving classes with the organisation.
The launch of Don’t Drink and Drown followed an inquest on the 1st October into the death of York St. John University student Megan Roberts, who drowned after a night out earlier this year.
It is believed that in late January this year she become separated from friends, after having been drinking at the Students’ Union bar in York, and fell into the river Ouse near York’s Lendal Bridge.
Jackie Roberts, mother of Megan Roberts, has been working closely with RLSS UK on a number of projects over the past few months and spoke of the loss of her daughter at the Don’t Drink and Drown event.
“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.”
However, the death of Megan Roberts is not the only incident of drowning whilst intoxicated within the UK’s student community. Earlier this year former, York University student Ben Clarkson also drowned after a night out, as did a Durham University student Sope Peters in late December in 2013.
Di Steer, the Acting Chief Executive of RLSS UK, 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.
“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.”
RLSS UK has announced that from now on their job will be to promote drowning prevention messages and deliver water safety education nationally, including offering a range of awards and programmes that teach lifesaving skills to all ages.