Police urge people to stay safe near open water as summer holidays start
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As the school summer holidays start, we are reminding people to take extra care when near open water.
Open water includes areas such as flooded quarries, ponds and reservoirs as well as rivers, canals and the sea.
Around 85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites and many of these are due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the hazards these sites pose.
Young people in particular are attracted to open water, and although it may look safe and inviting particularly in hot weather, even strong swimmers can get into difficulty within a matter of moments.
The dangers of open water include:
- Temperature – the water can be extremely cold, which can lead to a number of physiological conditions which affect the ability to swim
- Strong or hidden currents – water being pumped out of reservoirs creates currents which aren’t always noticeable
- Depth – it is difficult to estimate the depth of open water and it can change dramatically, even close to the bank
- Hidden hazards – such as weed, rubbish or broken glass which could trap a young person or cause injury
- Climbing out – once in the water, it can be difficult to get out due to steep, slimy or crumbling banks
- Pollution – this can affect any stretch of water, but may particularly be an issue at old industrial sites such as quarries
In addition, some sites young people may be attracted to are privately owned, those using them are trespassing, and the sites may not have life-saving equipment present.
We are sharing Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service’s video “Shock” to highlight the dangers.
Inspector Lauren Woods, said:
“We are urging people to stay safe over the summer by making themselves and their children aware of the risks of open water. When the weather is warm, it is tempting to jump in to cool off, but this can endanger your life and the lives of others if they then enter the water to help you.”
“There are still plenty of things to do safely near open water sites and we don’t want to discourage people from enjoying the activities some sites provide - but please be safe and stay out of the water unless you know the site is properly supervised.”
You can read more about water safety on the Royal Life Saving Society’s website here: www.rlss.org.uk/Pages/Category/water-safety-information