Stay safe plea to open water swimmers

Yorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) are reminding people in the region of the dangers of open water, as part of their support of Drowning Prevention Week, which aims to raise awareness of enjoying water safely.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 20th June 2022, 10:11 am
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 10:13 am

It comes as figures from the National Fire Chiefs Council reveal a total of 124 water rescue incidents were attended by Fire Services in Yorkshire and the Humber in 2021 (57 in West Yorkshire), with 23 fatalities recorded in Yorkshire and the Humber during the 12-month period.

The awareness week runs from 18-25 June and is spearheaded by Royal Life Saving Society UK. The awareness week aims to encourage people to enjoy water safely and encourages parents, schools, leisure centres and communities to educate young people to help them stay safe around water.

During the week Yorkshire Water will be hosting a series of water safety assemblies on Wednesday 22 June, with an extra session available on Thursday 7 July.

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Swimmers at Gaddings Dam in Todmorden

The 20–30 minute virtual assemblies will be tailored to KS3 & 4 and will be delivered by the utility company’s education team in partnership with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the RNLI.

Aligned to Swim England’s water safety messaging, students will learn the dangers of open water, how to keep themselves and their friends safe and what to do in an emergency.

Ash Roberts, public safety and safeguarding manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “As the weather picks up, we tend to see an increase in young people visiting our reservoirs and deciding to take a dip to cool off.

“It is important they are aware of the dangers posed by open water, with cold water shock, operational machinery and hidden undercurrents all posing a risk to their safety.”

Jemma Burgess, district prevention manager at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “We saw an increase in accidental drownings in our region last year and want to make sure people know how to stay safe around water.

“Cold water shock, the pull of flowing water and other hidden dangers can cause even the strongest swimmers to drown.

“Even on a warm day the temperature in open water can remain very cold, causing a physical reaction which can make it difficult to control breathing and make it difficult to swim. If you do find yourself in difficulty, float to live: Lean back into the water, extend your arms and control your breathing, then call and ask for help.

“If someone is in trouble in water, call 999 and importantly, ask for the fire service, as we have the specialist water rescue equipment. Never enter the water to attempt a rescue.”