PEOPLE in Staffordshire are being urged not to cool off in potentially dangerous lakes, reservoirs and quarries, as the Met Office issues a Level 3 heatwave alert for the weekend.
Level 3 means people can expect hot and humid conditions and should take action to keep out of the sun and drink lots of fluids.
Staffordshire’s communities leader, Gill Heath, is warning of the risks of cooling off in open water.
Around 85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites. Many of these drownings occur due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of open water safety.
Latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that 255 people lost their lives in accidental drownings in the UK in 2017.
Open water swimming is dangerous; inland water can be as cold as two degrees, even in summer, and is rarely warmer than 10 degrees. Cold water can seriously affect the strength and stamina of even the strongest swimmers.
It can also cause ‘cold water shock’ which can lead to sudden loss of consciousness and drowning. Prolonged periods in cold water can also lead to hypothermia.
Gill said: “As we are expecting more hot weather over the weekend, some people may be tempted to head to an open water site to cool down. This can present real dangers to even the most experienced of swimmers.
“Swimming in open water is completely different to swimming in a safe, controlled swimming pool and can be very dangerous. People wanting to take up open water swimming should only do so with organised groups and experienced instructors. We want people to have a safe and enjoyable time this summer and would certainly encourage people to swim in one of the many public pools across Staffordshire.”
National guidance on water safety can be found here: www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water