A SENIOR firefighter is warning people to stay safe around open water following a 20 per cent increase in reported incidents in the last year.
Howard Watts, Director of Community Safety at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said calls typically increased in the warmer weather.
“We see an increase in calls in the warm weather and, combined with loosening of lockdown restrictions, this is bound to bring temptations.
“Our message is clear: Do not swim in open water as it is easy to get into difficulties due to the cold or currents. It is often not possible to gauge the depth of the water or what might be at the bottom.”
He said the Service had seen an increase in calls for water-related incidents from previous years with Firefighters responding to 31 incidents since last May.
“Tragically there were two fatalities last year – Chasewater and Stowe Pool in Lichfield – so please take care. The water can seem so inviting, but it is a risk that is simply not worth taking. Being able to swim in an indoor pool does not mean you would be able to manage cold, deep water.”
The dangers of water include: very cold temperatures, hidden currents, fast flowing water, deep water, locks and weirs, pollution, hidden rubbish and debris.
It may also be difficult to get out and there will not be lifeguards present.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has two water rescue stations.
Newcastle has a rigid inflatable boat with outboard motor, while Tamworth has a non-powered inflatable. Each station has water rescue equipment such as dry suits, buoyancy aids, throw lines, reach and wading poles.
There are trained animal rescue crews in Cannock and Leek.
Remember – please do not swim in open water.
● Stay at home as much as possible
Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.