Northumbrian Water warn lives are being put at risk during UK heatwave

The public are being reminded of the dangers of open water swimming as hot weather continues to sweep the country.

Thursday, 5th July 2018, 11:18 am
Updated Thursday, 5th July 2018, 11:43 am
Northumbrian Water are warning of the risks of open water swimming.

Northumbrian Water has issued a warning about the dangers people face when they go into open water after a spate of incidents in which people attempted to swim in its reservoirs, risking their lives and those of others.

Cold water shock and hidden currents are just some of the elements posing a danger to people's lives when they take to open water.

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The company has banned unauthorised swimming or launching of water craft in its reservoirs - but rangers have had to ask more than a dozen people to get out of the water at its sites across the North East.

Don Coe, Northumbrian Water's waterside parks manager, said: "We don't ban swimming in our reservoirs to stop people having fun - we do it to stop people dying.

"There have been some really tragic incidents in other parts of the country already during the hot spell and it's horrific to think that it could happen here in the North East, either at one of our sites, or in a river, lake or other open water.

"Many of the dangers involved with being in or around water are hidden, so you don't know about them until it's too late.

"We want people to enjoy visiting our reservoirs, but when you're around water it only takes a moment for that to turn to tragedy.

"We would urge everyone to stay out of the water, and to even be really careful around the edge of open water.

"Anybody who enters the water puts their own lives at risk, and they also risk the lives of anyone - whether it's someone from the fire and rescue service or one of our team."

Swimming clubs and organised events are permitted, subject to the advanced agreement of Northumbrian Water.

Here are some safety tips for the public, issued by Northumbrian Water.

• Take notice of any safety advice or warning signs, such as no swimming signs, a red flag or danger deep water signs.

• Always accompany children. Stay close to your group and stay in sight at all times.

• Never go near water if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs - this is the number one cause of water-related deaths.

• Stay clear of strong currents, weirs, rapids and reservoir edges.

• Watch out for slippery banks, soft sand and rocks.

• Don't jump or dive in - you don't know how deep it is going to be.

• Wear something on your feet. There may be sharp rocks, rubbish or broken glass under the water.

• Messing around can be dangerous - don't splash water at other people or push them over.

• Get out of the water as soon as you start to feel cold.

• If you accidentally fall in, don't panic. Lean back, relax and try to float until you catch your breath and you can safely swim back or call for help.

• Never go deeper than welly height when playing in rivers as the strong current can easily knock you over.

• Cover any cuts and scratches with water proof plasters. Weil's Disease can be caught from rat urine.

• Learn to swim - it could save your life.