Youngsters urged not to swim in open water

The river Tame

With temperatures set to rise next week (week commencing 8 August), we are reminding young people of the dangers open water can pose.

Our firefighters and colleagues at Staffordshire Police have been engaging with youngsters in Tamworth around the dangers of swimming in rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs.

In recent months, the River Tame has become a hotspot for young people.

Simon England, Prevent Delivery Lead at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Even on a warm day, the temperature in open water can remain very cold, causing a physical reaction which can make it difficult to control breathing, cause panic and make it difficult to swim.

“Currents are often difficult to see before entering the water and can cause serious issues when people attempt to get out, particularly if slippery banks and steep foliage surrounds the water.

“If you come into difficulty, there are no lifeguards who can rescue you, meaning you are completely dependant on those around you who might also experience issues themselves.

“In addition, fresh water, although contradictory to its phrasing, can also be polluted and cause serious illnesses such as Weil’s disease.

“Staffordshire has some stunning areas of natural beauty and we want all our residents to enjoy them – but to enjoy them safely and responsibly for their own sake as well as everyone else’s.”

And with the summer holidays here, parents are also being encouraged to speak to talk to their children about the threats of open water swimming.

Anyone who may witness a person or animal in trouble around water should dial 999 as soon as possible.

If there is a lifebuoy or any form of floatable object nearby, attempt to thrust this near to the person in distress so they are able to keep above the surface.

Those who may visit popular beauty spots as temperatures soar are also reminded that people can still fall into open water by mistake.

Simon added: “In the event in which you fall into water by accident, you should try to avoid the instinct to thrash around as much as possible.

“Your body is likely to react like this when experiencing a drastic change in temperature, but you should lean back, extend your legs and arms and use slow, gentle movements to stay afloat.

“Once you have controlled your breathing, attempt to swim to safety and call for help.”

For more information on how to stay safe around open water, visit: Water safety on the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service website.