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Derbyshire water safety campaign video to support national drowning prevention effort as part of Be Water Aware toolkit

Thando Ndlovu, 15, who drowned in the River Trent in July 2021

A Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service (DFRS) water safety video is to feature in the national Be Water Aware toolkit in a joint effort to help prevent accidental drownings across the UK.  

The powerful video ‘Thando’s Story’ is being shared among fire and rescue services as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign which runs from 22 to 28 April this year.  

With 52% of accidental drownings in 2022 occurring between May and August the campaign aims to raise awareness of the risks of open water ahead of warmer weather. 

Thandolwethu Ndlovu, otherwise known as Thando, was near Swarkestone Bridge when he entered the water and got into difficulty in July 2021 and lost his life, just two days after his 15th birthday. 

DFRS first partnered with his parents Jabulani and Nombulelo Ndlovu to release ‘Thando’s Story’ last year and continues to share the video as warmer weather approaches to warn school children about the dangers of open water and prevent future drownings.  

Derbyshire’s Temporary Chief Fire Officer Rob Taylor said: “We are incredibly proud that Thando’s Story has been chosen to support this year’s Be Water Aware campaign and once again would like to extend our thanks to Mr and Mrs Ndlovu for allowing us to share their story and for choosing to use Thando’s legacy to prevent other families from experiencing the same heartache.   

“Thando’s Story is a hard hitting and emotive video which highlights the dangers of open water and the devastating impact that needless water deaths can have on families and communities.” 

National statistics show 40% of people who accidentally drowned had no intention of entering the water. Slips trips and falls were often the cause of these accidents.  

Many people also underestimate the dangers of jumping into water or taking a dip to cool off especially those with limited experience of outdoor swimming. Unseen hazards and cold water shock can mean even strong swimmers get into trouble. 

Males account for 87% of these accidental fatalities, 60% of which are in inland waters such as rivers, reservoirs and lakes. 

T/CFO Taylor added: “I would implore people to watch Thando’s Story, have conversations about the risks associated with playing in or close to open water, and ensure they know what to do if an emergency should happen.” 

By following our simple advice everyone can stay safe when they are around open water. Our advice is: 

  • Never enter the water – no matter how inviting it may look! 

  • Avoid walking on routes near water if you have been drinking alcohol. 

  • Don’t dive or jump into open water, this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock even on the warmest day. You also don’t know what’s below the surface of the water – rocks or other hidden debris can lead to serious or fatal injuries. 

  • Always supervise children around water - drowning can happen fast and silently. 

  • Never enter the water to try and rescue someone or an animal. Stay calm, stay on land and remember Call, Tell, Throw: Call 999 for the emergency services, tell the struggling person to float on their back, Throw them something that floats. 

If you find yourself in trouble in the water, remember to Float to Live: 

  • Tilt your head back with your ears submerged. 

  • Relax and breathe normally.  

  • Move your hands to help stay afloat.  

  • Spread your arms and legs out.  

  • Once your breathing is controlled, call for help or swim to safety. 

To watch Thando’s Story, visit