Yorkshire Water urges people not to enter its reservoirs as it backs Be Water Aware campaign

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Yorkshire Water is backing this year's Be Water Aware campaign by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), by urging people not to enter its reservoirs.

The campaign, which is also backed by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, aims to raise awareness about the risk of accidental drowning and encourage considerate behaviour around bodies of water.

The latest figures indicate there were 226 accidental drowning deaths in 2022 across the UK with six taking place in Yorkshire (three in West Yorkshire, two in South Yorkshire, and one in North Yorkshire). 60 per cent of all accidental drownings in the UK occurred inland, at reservoirs, lakes and river.

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Yorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service back NFCC Be Water Aware campaignYorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service back NFCC Be Water Aware campaign
Yorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service back NFCC Be Water Aware campaign

The NFCC campaign outlines that many people underestimate the risk of entering the water: Yorkshire Water see people entering its 130 reservoirs daily, despite warnings about the danger that reservoirs can pose.

With the effects of cold-water shock and unseen hazards like operating machinery and hidden undercurrents, even the strongest swimmers can get into difficulties.

Alastair Harvey, lead countryside and woodland advisor at Yorkshire Water, said: “With the summer approaching, we’re expecting to see an increase in numbers of people wanting to swim.

"We know how dangerous it can be to enter open bodies of water, like our reservoirs, and would urge everyone to take note of warnings at our sites.”

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Out of all 2022 accidental drownings, 40 per cent of people had no intention of ever entering the water – slips, trips and falls were commonly the cause of these incidents.

“Water safety goes beyond choosing not to swim or paddle to cool off – it's also about remaining vigilant around the water, particularly if you are looking after children. We are once again backing the NFCC campaign to raise awareness of water safety behaviours and measures.”

Yorkshire Water has further enhanced its water safety education programme for children across Yorkshire. Virtual lessons are available for children at Key Stages 1-4, with two live events scheduled in May.

Aligned to Swim England’s water safety advice, the events inform children how to keep themselves and their friends safe near open water and explain the hidden dangers in reservoirs, rivers, canals and seas.

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Yorkshire Water’s education team also explain ‘Float to Live’ lifesaving technique and what to do in an emergency.

Chris Bell, West Yorkshire Fire Service Assistant District Commander Kirklees, added: “We want people to enjoy water but it’s vital you don’t underestimate the risks of open water, it's very cold can have hidden dangers, entrapment risks and dangerous undercurrents. The temperature of open water is often below 15 degrees which can affect your breathing and movement leading to cold water shock.

“It’s important to know what to do if someone gets into in difficulty in water. Call 999 and ask for Fire and Rescue for inland waters in Yorkshire, using the What3Words app to helps us to find your exact location.

"Tell them to remain calm, try to control their breathing and let the initial effects of the cold-water pass.

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"They should lean back, extend arms and legs, and float until they can swim. Throw them something that floats or reach with an object such as a branch.

“We recommend swimming at lifeguarded swimming centres and locations wherever possible”.

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