RNLI: ‘Float to Live’ advice helps save woman from drowning in Blackburn canal

A BLACKBURN woman says that paying attention to an RNLI advert helped to save her life after she fell into a canal while out running.

Agnieszka Kwiecien, of Whinny Heights, Blackburn, was out for a run along the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near her home when she lost her footing and fell into the water near Whitebirk railway bridge.

Fortunately, she had seen a RNLI ‘float to live’ advert around a year ago which told her what to do.

Ms Kwiecien, known as Aggie, said: “It all happened in what felt like slow motion, even though it must have been a fraction of a second.

“As I felt myself go, I heard a calm voice in my head saying, ok, you know what to do, you fell into the canal, you mustn’t panic, you’re going to surface to the water and just relax.

“That’s exactly what I did.”

Ms Kwiecien, who runs Q Languages Polish translation and interpreting services in Blackburn, first saw the RNLI’s message during an advert break while watching an episode of the Great British Bake-off.

She said: “It was probably a year since I saw the advert, but it was really ingrained in my memory.”

After catching her breath, Ms Kwiecien was able to call out for help and alerted a group of passers-by, who helped to pull her out of the canal and wrapped her in a blanket before helping her get home.

Fortunately, she did not suffer any injuries or need medical help but was left shaken by the experience.

The advert Ms Kwiecien had seen was part of the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water, which highlights the risk of cold-water shock.

Its key advice if you find yourself suddenly in cold water is to ‘Float to Live’, fighting the instinct to panic and lying back until you can catch your breath.

RNLI water safety lead Chris Cousens said: “Aggie’s story really does prove the charity’s Float to Live advice is just as relevant inland as it is on the coast.

“Coastal fatality figures sadly show that many of those who lose their lives did not plan on entering the water.

“Slips, trips and falls can catch people unaware while out running or walking.

“Knowing what to do if you fall into cold water, whether inland or at the coast, can be the difference between life and death.”

To find out more, visit: www.respectthewater.com.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs