RESPECT the water.
That was the stern message as a safety day that took place on Hayling Island seafront.
Whether a pond, river, or a calm-looking sea, bodies of water can be extremely dangerous, visitors were told.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and the RNLI teamed up for the event, held in the car park at Beachlands.
Last year firefighters in Hampshire were called out to 89 animal rescues from water and in some cases owners had gone in to try to save their pet.
National statistics reveal that two thirds of people who drowned were regarded as good swimmers.
And RNLI data shows there were 57 swimming fatalities in the UK between 2010 and 2013.
Allan Brown, from Devon, was promoting the RNLI’s safety message.
He said: ‘The key message is that the waters around the UK are unpredictable and can be dangerous – particularly the effect of things like cold water shock.
‘Cold water shock can be a killer, even in a place like Hayling.
‘It’s quite sobering that something like 50 per cent of people who lost their lives in the water last year did not even expect to be in the water.
‘People need to treat the water with respect – understand simple things like the movement of the tide.
‘Always carry a means of calling for help. Never go into the water alone.’
Tanya Anderson, 36, took along her two children Jakey, eight, and Archie, four,.
Tanya, from East Meon, said: ‘It was really good.
‘They need it – especially the boys. It only takes a second. You take your eyes off them and they are gone.’
Jakey got to sit in a fire engine.
About the water, he said: ‘You can’t go out too far.’