No swimming warning as warm weather continues
22nd July 2016
Phil Blythe from Severn Trent, comments: “When it’s the school holidays and it’s a nice day, that’s when we see people start to venture into the reservoirs to cool off, but this is such a dangerous thing to do. It can look so tempting to jump into cool waters when the sun is beating down, but it can lead to a serious risk to life. Please enjoy the summer at our sites but don’t go into the water.”
A number of people have already been caught swimming in Severn Trent reservoirs this year, unaware that they’re putting their life at risk. Although the water company take health and safety very seriously, reservoirs don’t come with a safety net of support like managed swimming pools and beaches.
Phil adds: “To give people an idea, one of our reservoirs is as deep as a nine story building – or six double-decker buses and freezing in temperature. People shouldn’t get in the water; reservoirs are dangerous places and even the strongest of swimmers can get into difficulty.
"Reservoirs also have water being pumped in and out creating very strong currents which aren’t always visible and they’ll easily overpower a swimmer.
”The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK) UK’s deputy director of education and research, Mike Dunn, said:
“Last year saw a tragic amount of preventable deaths as people flocked to open water sites not suitable for swimming. These sites included rivers, quarries, lakes and reservoirs – all of which have many dangers including very cold water, currents, obstacles and uneven depths.
“They look so inviting but can be deadly. Figures show that on average each year the summer months of July and August witness the most drowning deaths with the majority of drownings being male*. And the pattern looks like it is continuing with reports this week of five drowning in less than a 48-hour period.
“I urge people to listen to safety advice and never swim in non-lifeguarded areas unsuitable for swimming. It may seem an inviting way to cool off but there are deadly dangers such as extremely cold temperatures, unpredictable currents, uneven depths and unknown debris or object people can jet injured or caught in.
“Cold Water Shock can happen at any time of the year, not just summer. When you jump, dive or fall into cold water, there’s an involuntary ‘gasp’ response (Cold Shock) as the water hits your skin – you won’t be able to control your breathing. During Cold Shock your blood pressure rises and heart rate increases, and most people (even the best of swimmers) start to panic.”
The RLSS UK said that being aware of the basic principles of open water safety, combined with knowledge and understanding of Cold Water Shock and the hazards, can significantly reduce the number deaths each year.
Mike added: “Any drowning is a tragedy but the number if of people who lose their lives each summer is not only extremely sad but extremely worrying.”