Stay safe this Bank Holiday weekend

Severn Trent, Birmingham City Council and the Canal and River Trust are all reminding people to keep out of the water this bank holiday weekend.

The organisations are urging members of the public to resist the urge to swim in reservoirs, canals and rivers as it might put them or others in danger.

Dan Taberner, from Severn Trent, says: “We completely understand the temptation to cool off in the water on a scorching hot day, but the reality is if you do this, you could really be putting yourself in serious danger.

“Some of our reservoirs are as deep as nine storey buildings, the currents underneath are really strong as water is pumped in and out and the water can be freezing cold. Even the most experienced swimmer can easily wind up in a spot of bother.”

The water company, which owns reservoirs across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, mid-Wales and the Midlands, says its reservoirs are built for the purpose of supplying people with water.

“Our reservoirs are there to provide water to our customers and offer plenty of other activities to do on your visit,” said Dan. “Unlike beaches and swimming pools, they’re not manned by lifeguards, so we really want people to remember to keep out of the water to keep safe.”

The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK) UK is the drowning prevention charity. RLSS UK’s deputy director of education and research, Mike Dunn, said: “Last year saw a tragic number of preventable deaths as people flocked to open water sites not suitable for swimming. These sites included rivers, quarries, lakes and reservoirs – all of which have many dangers including very cold water, currents, obstacles and uneven depths.

“They look so inviting but can be deadly. Figures show that on average each year the summer months of July and August witness the most drownings deaths with the majority of drownings being male*.

“I urge people to listen to safety advice and never swim in non-lifeguarded areas unsuitable for swimming. It may seem an inviting way to cool off- but there are deadly dangers such as extremely cold temperatures, unpredictable currents, uneven depths and unknown debris or object people can jet injured or caught in.

“Cold Water Shock can happen at any time of the year, not just summer. When you jump, dive or fall into cold water, there’s an involuntary ‘gasp’ response (Cold Shock) as the water hits your skin – you won’t be able to control your breathing. During Cold Shock your blood pressure rises and heart rate increases, and most people (even the best of swimmers) start to panic.”

The RLSS UK said that being aware of the basic principles of open water safety, combined with knowledge and understanding of Cold Water Shock and the hazards, can significantly reduce the number deaths each year.

Mike added: “Any drowning is a tragedy but the number if of people who lose their lives each summer is not only extremely sad but extremely worrying.”

Sarah Cook, education coordinator, Midlands, for the Canal and River Trust, said: “Canals and rivers are fantastic places to enjoy the great outdoors. They may look like inviting places for a dip on a hot summer’s day, but hidden dangers such as strong currents and hazardous sunken objects make them very unsafe places to swim. The Canal & River Trust teaches children how to spot potential hazards and avoid hidden dangers so that they can continue to safely enjoy all that our waterways have to offer.”

Further advice and guidance