Warning of the hidden dangers of swimming in open water
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With the high temperatures expected to continue into this weekend (July 23/24), Northamptonshire Police is urging the public not to be tempted to swim in unsafe open waters.
The warning is being issued following the death of a number of young people who have sadly drowned in England over the past few days after getting into difficulties in rivers, lakes, canals, and quarries.
Whilst the Northamptonshire Police Force Control Room has also seen an increase in the number of reports of adults and children swimming in open water at various locations across the county.
Swimmers have been spotted at the River Nene at Wadenhoe, Corby Boating Lake, Kinewell Lake at Denford, Summer Leys Nature Reserve at Wollaston, and Naseby Reservoir, however the Force is warning that all open water poses potential hidden dangers.
In addition to weeds and undergrowth which swimmers could become tangled in, there may also be other hidden hazards beneath the water surfaces such as strong currents as well as the risk of cold-water shock.
Cold-water shock forces swimmers to gasp for breath and can cause them to lose control in the water, regardless of whether they are strong swimmers or not, and increases the difficulty in getting out of the water.
Detective Superintendent Joe Banfield, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People (PVP) at Northamptonshire Police, said: “The tragic news of people losing their lives after swimming in rivers, lakes and canals has dominated the headlines over the past few days, highlighting once again the potential dangers of such activities.
“Sadly, over the last few days, we have also seen an increase in calls to the Force Control Room reporting both adults and children swimming at locations across the county including country parks, reservoirs and lakes.
“With the high temperatures set to continue into the weekend and schools closing for the summer, as tempting as it is, we would urge people not to be tempted to cool down in any open water were authorised swimming is not permitted.
“Not only is the water temperature a lot colder than the air but all open water can contain other hidden hazards which may not be visible from the surface including unpredictable depths of the water, weeds, reeds and other unknown objects.
“We are urging parents and carers to speak to their children about the dangers of swimming in open water and also be aware of where their children are and what they are doing this summer.”
If you find yourself in the water:
Take a minute. The initial effects of cold water pass in less than a minute so don’t try to swim straight away
Relax and float on your back to catch your breath. Try to get hold of something that will help you float
Keep calm then call for help or swim for safety if you’re able
If you see someone else in the water:
Do not go into the water to rescue them. You could get into trouble yourself
Call 999 and ask for the fire service and be as precise as you can with the location
Tell the struggling person to float on their back in a star shape
Throw something that may help them float – like a branch, an inflatable ball or even a water bottle
Download the what3words app to help give emergency services your precise location
More details about open water safety is available from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service website or the Royal Life Saving Society UK website.