Water safety warnings have been issued by the fire service and police after recent warm weather saw people taking dangerous risks around open water.
Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police are encouraging families to talk about water safety after teenagers were discovered jumping into a reservoir in Daventry.
On the first May bank holiday, May 7, firefighters visited Daventry Country Park to offer water safety advice to visitors. When they arrived they were told a group of young people were on the park’s reservoir overflow area, jumping into the water.
Watch manager Norman James, of Daventry fire station, said: “We spoke to them, explained the dangers and risks and advised them to stay out of the water. They were very polite teenagers simply out to enjoy the good weather, but sadly people have lost their lives when a quick dip goes wrong. We don’t want an innocent bit of fun in the sun to turn into a tragedy.
“A reservoir might look calm and inviting but cold water shock and obstacles under the surface are very real risks. If you get into trouble there’s also the danger of people trying to rescue you getting into difficulty and becoming a casualty themselves.
“If someone gets into difficulties in water, stay on the bank and call 999 for help. Try to reach out to them with a stick or clothing, or throw something buoyant they can hold on to, and reassure them while you wait for help.”
Cold water shock can seriously affect breathing and movement, and can be a precursor to drowning. Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water, with average UK sea temperatures just 12°C and rivers even colder, even in the summer.
Think water safety this summer
Parents and carers in particular are being encouraged to talk about water safety with children and teenagers, but people of all ages are being reminded to take care around water, including water features on housing estates as well as rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs.
Water safety charity the Royal Life Saving Society says around 400 people drown in the UK every year. Drowning is also the third highest cause of accidental death in UK children.
Daventry PCSO Kirstin Bates, of Northamptonshire Police, said: “With warm weather predicted for the long weekend, we want to help everyone stay safe while having fun.
“During good weather we see increased numbers of people swimming in places they shouldn’t, and while a dip might seem a refreshing idea, the risk of cold water shock and drowning is very real.
“Please talk to your family and children about the dangers of going for an impromptu swim, and if you want to swim, go to a proper facility with lifeguards.”
Maria Taylor, Community Manager at Daventry District Council, added: “We would like to remind all our visitors to please take extreme care around the reservoir. The water may look inviting in this warmer weather, but there are many hidden dangers. Please remind your children of the dangers too and follow RoSPA’s Water Safety Code.”
RoSPA Water Safety Code here.
Find RNLI advice on what to do if you fall into water