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Ben Savage anniversary: Festive water safety campaign #GotDuckedFellIn launches

By Ed McConnell

A festive edition of a water safety campaign has been launched on the second anniversary of a Kent man's death.

Ben Savage, 18, fell in the River Medway after a night out at Chatham's Tap 'n' Tin nightclub on December 6, 2016.

The Strood teenager's body was found eight weeks later near Rochester Bridge.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service launch their safety campaign to stop needless deaths on rivers

In May, Kent Fire and Rescue Service launched the Got Ducked Fell In campaign to encourage people to stay safe near water after drinking alcohol.

Ducks were dotted around the county at locations where fire crews have repeatedly rescued people from the water and those who spotted them were encouraged to share snaps on social media using #GotDuckedFellIn.

Now the same campaign has been given a festive facelift, with rubber ducks wearing Santa hats hidden at pubs around the county which are close to rivers.

In the past nine years, KFRS has attended more than 335 water rescues, that’s an average of 37 a year.

Nationally, 89% of men who die after going missing on a night out are found dead in water.

Ben Savage died in December 2016
Ben Savage died in December 2016

Mr Savage's parents, Tara and Martin, backed the campaign when it initially launched earlier this year, and they’re supporting the initiative again this Christmas.

They said: "It’s amazing to see such a positive campaign come out of such a horrific situation - us losing Ben to the River Medway, two years ago.

"Looking at the statistics, we’re one of many families who have lost a loved one to water. We’re sure that the awareness raised from Kent Fire and Rescue Service's campaign and safety tips will save many lives this winter and in the coming years."

A festive edition of the Got Ducked Fell In campaign has been launched (5835699)
A festive edition of the Got Ducked Fell In campaign has been launched (5835699)

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is urging anyone going out drinking this festive season to follow some simple steps to keep themselves safe:

• Let someone know where you’re going and what time you think you’ll be home

• Plan your journey home in advance

• Make sure your phone is fully charged before you go out

• Be aware of the amount of alcohol you’re drinking and know when to stop to stay safe

• Look out for friends who may have had too much to drink

KFRS group manager for community safety, prevention and protection Leanne McMahon said: “It only takes a small amount of alcohol to impact your ability to save yourself in water. Even strong swimmers with no alcohol in their system could struggle if they fell in a river, due to underwater currents and the effects of cold water shock, which includes involuntary inhalation and can result in drowning.

"So if you fall in after just a drink or two, you’re likely to drown because your reaction times are reduced, instincts are skewed and coordination is impacted.

The Kent Fire and Rescue Service camapign was started in May (5835701)
The Kent Fire and Rescue Service camapign was started in May (5835701)

“We’re asking everyone who spots our pub ducks to take a photo and post it on social media with #GotDuckedFellIn to help raise awareness and start a conversation about water safety.

“Have fun this Christmas, but please take care and think before you drink near water – you don’t want to be the one who got ducked and fell in.”

Pubs hiding a duck will have posters up featuring a cartoon festive duck. The Flower Pot, in Sandling Road, Maidstone, is one of those taking part.

Landlord David Davenport said: “We’re very happy to be supporting Kent Fire and Rescue Service with its Got Ducked Fell In Christmas campaign, and we’ll have a duck hidden at The Flower Pot over the festive period for customers to find.

"We’re located not far from the River Medway at Fairmeadow, so if we can help encourage our customers who walk home to choose well-lit routes away from water, then it’s definitely worth doing.”

Any pubs in Kent near open water can email info@kent.fire-uk.org before Monday, December 17, to get involved.

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