'Worrying increase' in number of people swimming in reservoirs during lockdown

There has been a "worrying increase" in the number of people swimming reservoirs in Yorkshire during lockdown, it has been revealed.

By Ian Hirst
Friday, 14th May 2021, 2:00 pm

Yorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) have backed the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign after more than 120 reported incidents of swimming in Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs since July 2020.

According to the NFCC, 223 people accidentally drowned in the UK in 2019, with 44% of those deaths occurring in inland water.

Gaynor Craigie, head of land and property at Yorkshire Water, said: “During lockdown we have seen a worrying increase in the number of reported incidents of people getting into our reservoirs to swim recreationally or simply to have a dip and cool off.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

Widdop reservoir

“We know the importance of exercise and visiting the countryside as a boost to mental health, particularly over recent months, but safety must remain paramount. Entering a reservoir is dangerous. Low water temperatures can cause cold water shock that may lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and ultimately death. Underwater machinery and the currents associated with their operation are also a potential hazard for people choosing to enter the water.

“We are backing the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Be Water Aware campaign once again and would encourage those visiting our reservoirs to do so safely, which means not entering the water and putting themselves at risk.”