Fire Service warn of the dangers of swimming in open water

April 13, 2015

WARWICKSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service are highlighting just how dangerous open water can be.

They are doing this by supporting the Chief Fire Officers Association’s – Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week 2015 which is taking place from 13 -19 April.

The campaign is focusing on raising awareness of the issue of cold water shock, which causes a number of fatalities every year as young people, even those who are strong swimmers, aren’t aware of the effect that it can have on their ability to swim in open water. Even on a warm day, the temperature of the water in a reservoir, quarry or lake can remain very cold and the shock of cold water creates a physical response that can make it more difficult to swim, and can even cause death.

During the week fire crews will be carrying out a water rescue training at Draycote Water Country Park in Rugby. The aim of the event will be to show just how easy it can be to get into danger in open water and how the fire service respond when they get the 999 call.

No swimming sign next to quarryMoreno Francioso Community Fire Prevention and Arson Manager said: “Although incidents involving open water are very low in Warwickshire, we still have a number of places where young people in particular feel it is safe to swim. Sadly over the years this has resulted in lives being lost and this is something we need to ensure is not repeated.

“As part of Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week, we are asking people to think twice before they get into deep water and not only put their lives at risk, but also the lives of the firefighters or passers-by, who go into the waters to try and rescue them.”

CFOA’s Water Safety Lead, Dawn Whittaker, warned: “While reservoirs, lakes, rivers and other inland water may look safe and inviting, particularly on a warm day, there are hidden dangers below the surface that could make you ill, hurt you, and at worst, could kill you.

“Cold Water Shock is a physical response that can not only affect your breathing, but will reduce your muscle ability and can even lead to a heart attack. Moving water, such as rivers, may look calm, but may have strong currents below the surface which can carry even strong swimmers into danger. And, of course, from out of the water, or above, you may not be able to see dangerous obstructions such as large rocks or dead branches that can cause you injury.

“You may also want to consider the fact that open water is untreated, and may be polluted with bacteria and algae that can give you stomach upsets, or even with organisms that can cause a number of nasty illnesses including Weil’s Disease, Trachoma and Whipworm.

For more information on the campaign log onto http://www.cfoa.org.uk