Police campaign against drivers mobile use

This week police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will begin a fresh operational push against mobile phone use by drivers.

The campaign runs from today (Monday 23 January – Sunday 29 January).CFOA and many fire and rescue services will be supporting this campaign. Fire services respond to thousands of road traffic accidents every year and hope this campaign will encourage people to change their behaviour and prevent many of these incidents happening in the future.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue service responding to one of the hundreds of road accidents that occur in their area

This latest campaign follows an earlier one in November 2016 in which 36 police forces took part.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have today announced that in that week long campaign in November 10,012 vehicles were stopped. This resulted in 7,800 fixed penalty notices, 689 court summons and hundreds of verbal warnings. 117 other driving distraction offences such as eating while driving were also identified.

Throughout this campaign week police forces will run targeted operations and education campaigns.

Operations include:

 targeted patrols using unmarked vans, high vantage points and helmet cams to catch offenders;

 partnership with local authorities and emergency services to deter people from taking the risks;

 innovative digital campaigns to communicate that the risks are more serious than people think;

  Community ‘spotters’ to highlight hotspots and report repeat offenders to police

  Advising the public about changes to penalties for mobile phone use by driving from 1 March 2017


Recent studies show the use of mobile phones when driving is widespread and the risks drastically underestimated.

Chief constable Suzette Davenport, the NPCC’s lead for roads policing said: “This week forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits.

“Encouraging results from last year’s campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be. Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.

“Forces will be working throughout the year to tackle this behaviour by motorists with national partners and the public.

At the moment drivers in England, Scotland and Wales risk three penalty point and a £100 fine is caught using a phone behind the wheel. But this is due to increase to six penalty points and £200 fine later in 2017. Additionally newly qualified drivers could be made to resit their driving test and experienced drivers could go to court if they offend twice, which could result in £1000 fine and a six-month driving ban.

Look out for the following hashtags on social media to support this campaign #ItCanWait and #EyesOnTheRoad


Parliament talks drowning prevention

A one-off oral evidence session was held in Parliament by the Transport Committee on 5 December 2016. The sessions aim was to scrutinise the structure and coordination of organisations that work to prevent and respond to emergency incidents around the coastline.

It also asked questions around the issues of beach safety, and the responsibilities of beach owners and managers in ensuring the safety of the public in the light of a spate of tragic accidents at a number of locations in summer 2016.

The Chief Fire Officers Association’s Water Lead, Dawn Whittaker, was one of those invited to give evidence.

It was an excellent opportunity for CFOA and members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to highlight the collaborative work that is undertaken to prevent drowning and also to raise awareness with politicians of the UK National Drowning Prevention Strategy. The strategy was launched in February 2016 and has an overarching aim of achieving a 50% reduction in accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. In real terms this means reducing the number of accidental drownings from approximately 400 per annum to 200.
CFOA_Water Safety Poster_DOG

The session also highlighted wider issues relating to drowning including the significant issue of drowning on inland waterways which accounts for around two thirds of fatalities. Furthermore, the impact of non – fatal drowning events are significant and as Dawn Whittaker mentioned these lead to serious and life changing injuries for up to eight times as many people as fatal drowning events.

NWSF members also met last week with the Local Government Association (LGA). They are the supporting association for politicians working in local government. Again this is a crucial link to develop in order to help raise awareness of the drowning issue amongst local councils.

It is hoped that by speaking to the LGA and raising awareness, local councils will be encouraged to take positive action to help prevent drownings as part of their duty of care. Councils would be encouraged to undertake risk assessments. Data which is collated and held on the WAter Incident Database (WAID) and the expertise of the NWSF can be drawn upon and be used to inform communities of their local level risk.

A meeting with Transport Minister, the Rt. Hon John Hayes CBE, also ensured that Ministerial support for the Drowning Prevention Strategy would continue and would he would further engage with other ministers to widen that support.

Of course underpinning this awareness is a real need for education around water safety. Beckie Ramsay campaigns for drowning prevention as part of the Doing it for Dylan campaign which she set up after the loss of her son in 2011. Beckie also works as a volunteer safety advocate for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and has supported many other fire and rescue services with local campaigns and events. She welcomed the parliamentary session and was able to submit some written evidence, this is important as we must not forget these are not just numbers – they are people. If we educate children now and in the future, as we do with regard to road and fire safety this may be an important step in reducing the number of drownings. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168941

Mind Blue Light Programme to continue to March 2018

In yesterday’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond
announced that Mind’s Blue Light Programme been awarded a further £1.5 million in LIBOR funding.

The funding will allow the mental health charity to continue to deliver vital mental health support for 999 staff and volunteers until March 2018, in partnership with emergency services ablue-squiggle-cropped-for-webnd local Minds in England.

The funding will also enable this much-needed support to be made available in Wales from 2017. Several new areas of work with 999 call-handlers, accident and emergency workers and emergency service new recruits will also be developed.

In addition to this, research will be carried out into how the Blue Light initiative can potentially impact on the way blue light employees and volunteers interact with members of the public.

fire-crew-chatting-2Research from Mind found that over 9 in 10 emergency services workers have experienced stress, low mood or poor mental health whilst at work and over one in four admitted that this has caused them to contemplate suicide. A review of the impact of the first year of the Blue Light Programme has shown that it had a ‘markedly positive impact on those it reached’ but there is still a challenge to meet in order to provide support and tackle the stigma attached to mental health in the workplace.

CFOA will continue to support and promote the delivery of this programme and is delighted to see that the support available will be extended to services in Wales.

You can read more about the Blue Light Programme and their future plans here  and access a number of resources produced to support emergency service workers:

  • Blue Light Infoline –a confidential infoline, just for emergency service staff, volunteers and their families – call 0300 303 5999 or text 84999
  • Sign the Blue Light ‘Time to Change’ pledge
  • Watch webinars designed for each emergency service which share the experiences and personal stories from staff and volunteers as well as practical ways to recognise mental health problems and how to look after your own mental health
  • Download or order information booklets for your service


Take Brake’s Pledge and Make Roads Safer

This week is Road Safety Week (21-27 November) and CFOA, along with fire and rescue services throughout the UK, will be supporting the key messages of this campaign in order to help prevent road deaths and injuries.

The week was introduced in 1997 and is coordinated by Brake and is the UK’s biggest road safety event. It exists to help stop the five deaths and 62 serious injuries that happen everyday on UK roads.

It’s a simple ask – change our driving behaviour and help to make UK roads safer. Sign up and share Brake’s Pledge online.

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Brake have outlined the six elements of the Brake Pledge for Road Safety Week 2016  which are are Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

  • Slow:Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain [1].
  • Sober:Having even one drink before getting behind the wheel can affect your ability to drive. In 2013 one in 10 (11%) drivers/motorcycle riders killed in a crash had alcohol present in their body, even though they weren’t over the legal blood-alcohol limit [2]. One in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who has driven while over the limit [3].
  • Secure:Seat belts are still seen as an inconvenience by some drivers, yet using one reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 50% [4]. 21% of car occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [5].
  • Silent:Drivers who perform a complex secondary task, like using a mobile, while at the wheel are three times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers [6].
  • Sharp:Booking in for a regular eye test should be at the top of any driver’s to-do list. Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year [7].
  • Sustainable:By minimising the amount we drive, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead, we are making our communities safer places, and doing the best we can for the environment and our individual health. Air pollution is a major killer: there are an estimated 29,000 deaths per year from particulate matter pollution in the UK [8], 5,000 of which are attributable to road transport [9].

Look out for events and activities for National Road Safety Week from your own local fire and rescue service. Types of activities range from leaflet drops and talks in schools on cycling safety to driving advice for winter. Look out for #RoadSafetyWeek and #BrakePledge on social media and help spread the word.

For more information about being safe on the roads whether you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist please visit http://www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk/

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2014, Department for Transport, 2015, table RAS50001
[2] Statistical data set: Reported drinking and driving (RAS51), Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS51007
[3] Provisional estimate for 2014, fromReported road casualties Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (second provisional), Department for Transport, February 2016
[4] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006
[5] Oral evidence: Road traffic law enforcement, HC 518, Transport Select Committee, 7 December 2015
[6] The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, US Department of Transportation, 2006
[7] Fit to Drive: a cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, RSA Insurance Group plc, 2012
[8] Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution, Public Health England, 2014
[9] Steve H. L. Yim and Steven R. H. Barrett, “Public Health Impacts of Combustion Emissions in the United Kingdom”, Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (8), 4291-4296

Blue Light Infoline Awareness


This week is CFOA is supporting Blue Light Infoline Awareness Week. The campaign aims to promote the infoline service which is available to those that volunteer and work for the emergency service. The service is part of the Blue Light Programme which was launched by Mind in March 2015. The infoline is able to offer advice and signpost people to help if they need it.

In the first year evaluation of the Blue Light Programme it was apparent that although there was a high awareness of mental health problems among blue light personnel, less than a third were aware of the Blue Light Infoline and this was the single greatest reason for people not having accessed it.

CFOA are actively encouraging fire services to continue to promote the infoline in their workforce. Something as simple as displaying the artwork available on staff notice boards, providing information in internal newsletters or making sure new starters have the information can be useful. Mind found that 79% or respondents to the Blue Light evaluation said they would ‘never’ seek help from HR if they experienced a mental health problem.

Mind’s research shows that nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of emergency service staff and volunteers had contemplated leaving their job or voluntary role because of stress or poor mental health. Those numbers can be changed and just one way of making that change can be accessing this confidential support.

If you work in the emergency services (paid or voluntary) visit Mind’s website and make sure your organisation is supporting the six easy steps to raise awareness.


National burn awareness day

Today is National Burn Awareness Day an awareness campaign from the Children’s Burns Trust. CFOA along with fire and rescue services throughout the UK support this campaign in order help reduce the number of burns and scalds which occur each year.

Many of these incidents are preventable, but in some cases they lead to injuries which can require years of treatment as well as dealing with the psychological impact of scars. Mark Cashin, CFOA Home Safety Lead said ““Burns don’t only cause physical wounds, they cause emotional scars too: to both those who suffer the burns and to those who feel they may have been in some way responsible.”

Most burn injuries occur in the home with children and the elderly most at risk. Both groups have delicate skin, a baby’s skin is 15 times thinner than an adults and as we age the skin once again thins.  Some changes in behaviour may help reduce the risks of these injuries.

Protecting the young

Hot drinks are the most common cause of scald injury in children. A hot drink even after 15 minutes may still be hot enough to scald a child – so an adult’s perception of a cooled hot drink may still be a danger to a small child. 288 children a month have scald injuries from hot liquids which are serious enough to need specialised treatment from the NHS Burns Service.

  • Make sure you don’t nurse or carry a child whilst you have a hot drink in your hand
  • Make sure you leave hot drinks well out of reach – high up and away from the edge
  • Hot drinks should be kept on a sturdy secure surface- not a table that can be tipped or on a tablecloth that may be pulled by curious hands
  • Avoid carrying or walking around with hot/warm liquids if children are running around your feet
  • Don’t warm baby bottles in the microwave – this can cause hotspots in the milk which won’t be apparent when you test the milk on the back of your wrist

If you attend playgroups with small children consider raising awareness of this issue there. This case study from the Child Accident Prevention Trust ( CAPT) – Developing a parent led hot drinks pledge shows how raising some awareness and making simple changes can keep children safer.

Young children don’t know to pull away from heat so hot surfaces also pose a risk and can cause serious injury. It can also be confusing for a small child as some surfaces are not always hot – for example a radiator may have been touched safely all year when the central heating was off.

  • Surfaces such as an oven will remain hot for a while after it has been used. Never leave children unsupervised in the kitchen
  • Radiators can be hot enough to burn – radiator covers can protect young children from burns
  • Don’t forget the pipework – if you have exposed hot water pipes you can cover them with insulating material
  • Small electrical items as irons and hair straighteners can take a long time to cool down make they are well out reach (including the cords so they can’t be pulled down)

Protecting older people

In older people the pattern of injury is very similar to that of young children. Scalds caused by hot drinks are quite common.

  • Make sure you can comfortably carry a hot drink, if you are unsteady on your feet or prone to falling avoid carry hot drinks in a cup or mug, it may be easier carry it in a flask.
  • If the kettle is hard to lift consider using a smaller and lighter travel kettle or a kettle cradle to pour the hot water
  • Make sure walking routes are clear of any trip hazards

Again the advice for young children in relation to hot surfaces can also be applied to older people so it is worth considering if radiator covers and fire guards are needed. Older people may not have the reactions or strength to pull away from a hot surface quick enough to avoid a burn or if they are unsteady inadvertently reach for a hot surface to steady themselves.

Both young and old can be scalded by hot water from taps

  • Run baths carefully add the hot water after the cold
  • Install thermostatic mixing valves in all hot water outlets
  • Lower the water temperature on your boiler

The correct way to treat a burn or scald

If the worst does happen and someone is burnt or scalded good and appropriate first aid can reduce the recovery time and severity of the injury.


Make good your escape

Make good your escape

We spend a lot of time and effort making sure people can’t get into our homes but often do we give any thought to how we would get out in an emergency?Plan-an-Escape-Route

In the event of a fire seconds count and this is why fire and rescue services and Fire Kills are asking people to take some time this spring to think about an escape plan for the home.

Unsung heroes

Installing a smoke alarm is only the first step in protecting you and your family. Make sure you install alarms that are suitable for your needs, correctly sited and working. CFOA suggest you test your alarms once a week. It’s a simple message but worth re-iterating. Fire statistics for 2013-2014 show in about 30% of dwelling fires there was no alarm and in 19% of fires there was an alarms but it did not operate. This is usually because of dead or missing batteries and in some cases the smoke never reached the smoke alarm – suggesting not enough were installed or installed in the correct places

It’s not enough just to install the alarms. An escape plan is of little use if you aren’t aware there is a problem.  For more advice about alarms please see CFOA’s earlier blog or contact your local fire and rescue service who may be able to carry out a ‘Safe and Well’ visit which can also include helping you devise an escape plan.

Escape Plan

Of course you won’t necessarily know where, when or even if a fire will break out in your home but it is worth considering the various escape routes available to you.

  • The normal route in and out of the home is usually the best route but your plan should assume this route is not available
  • Make sure that all exits from the house are clear of clutter
  • Keep stairways clear
  • Keys for windows and doors should be easily found and accessible to everyone in the home
  • Double check your windows – particularly if you are in a modern house or have replacement windows the upstairs ones should open wide to help you escape – avoid locking these
  • Make sure everyone in the house knows the plan – this includes children and guests
  • Try to make sure you have phones on all floors of your home or take your mobile upstairs at night
  • Close internal doors at night – they will reduce the spread of fire and smoke

What to do if you can’t get out

  • Try and get everyone into one room. Ideally with a window and phone
  • Try and stop smoke from entering the room by blocking the bottom of the door- use anything to hand, cushions, bedding, rugs – rip the curtains down if you have to
  • Open the window and call for help – shout “Help Fire”
  • If you cannot open the window you need to smash it. Hit it hard with an object in the bottom corner and protect yourself from jagged edges by putting something like a blanket or rug over them
  • If you are on the ground floor or first floor you may be able to get out of the window. Make sure you try and cushion the ground with bedding or cushions
  • Never jump out but lower yourself down

High Rise Flats

High rise flats are built to give some protection from fire. Unless smoke or fire is directly affecting you it is best to stay put unless instructed otherwise by a fire fighter.

  • Make sure communal areas are not cluttered or used to store items. Not only are they a trip hazard when escaping they can be fuel for the fire
  • Make sure doors in communal areas are not propped open
  • Report any damage to doors to stairways
  • Make sure doors leading to exits and stairwells are not locked or blocked
  • Never use the lift as an escape route

Once you have made an appropriate escape plan for your household make sure you practise it so everyone know what they should do in en emergency.

My Red Thumb Campaign

My Red Thumb day is 12 May and is a road safety awareness campaign which aims to reduce the number of accidents and deaths caused by distractions, especially those associated with using a mobile phone whilst driving.

My Red Thumb Campaign Poster 2016

Initially launched in Devon in 2014 as a multi-agency road safety initiative, it has grown to become a national social media campaign.

Drivers using a phone while at the wheel are not only less aware of what is happening around them, but they react more slowly and take longer to brake. They are also four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing yourself and/or other people, according to research by RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents).

Laura Pratt, SM Community Safety Education & Road Safety – Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “This year we will be trying to get as many people as possible to spread the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.

We will be promoting the messages though social media links to associated websites as well as through engagement events throughout the Service area. We also have purchased silicone thumb rings to promote the message and act as a visual reminder of not to use a mobile phone whilst driving and to challenge drivers who do.”

The campaign also encourages people to paint their thumb nail red as a reminder not to check their phone whilst driving and also show their support for the campaign by sharing their red thumb selfies on social media.

The advice to motorists before starting a journey is:

  • Turn off your phone or put it on silent.
  • Put your phone out of reach where you will not be tempted to reach for it.

And when making a journey:

  • If you phone rings ignore it or ask a passenger to take the call for you.
  • If you need to make a call first find a sensible place to stop and turn off your engine.

For more information visit www.myredthumb.com. On Twitter @MyRedThumb or go to Facebook.com/myredthumb


Alcohol and water – not a good cocktail

A night out can rapidly end in tragedy as alcohol and being near bodies of water can make a lethal combination. A quarter of adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions and can lead to risk taking behaviour such as skinny dipping. But also it means that judgement can become clouded and if something does happen people don’t necessarily know how to react safety and appropriately.

CFOA_Water Safety Poster_alcohol

Many young drinkers simply fall into the water. Parted from their friends they become disorientated, alcohol may mean they are slightly uncoordinated and fall in. The effect of alcohol on the body means if someone falls in they will struggle to help themselves their reactions are slowed and muscle ability limited.  With fewer people around at night to see the incident in many cases the persons’ disappearance is often not noticed until the next day.

RLSS – Don’t Drink and Drown

As part of CFOA’s drowning prevention campaign the ‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ message is being reinforced.  This campaign is delivered by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) warns young drinkers to avoid walking near or entering water when under the influence of alcohol.

The drowning prevention charity is launching its national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign on 26 September to 2 October 2016 to warn drinkers, particularly students, to act responsibly near water after they have been drinking. The campaign uses the #Don’tDrinkAndDrown.

The campaign is also runs at a local level and will launch in Brighton on April 30 to warn drinkers in this area about the dangers for the bank holiday weekend.

Water Safety advice for a night out

  • Safety in numbers – try and stay in a group. If the group is split up phone each other and try and meet up. Don’t assume your friend has met up with someone else
  • Keep and eye out for friends that have had too much to drink. Keep them close and don’t let them wander off
  • Avoid walking near water especially at night when it can be hard to see trip hazards or the waters edge– even if the path is well lit you may be unsteady on your feet
  • Make sure you have a taxi number in your phone and keep emergency taxi money at home so you know you can always get yourself and a friend home safety