We are today, Saturday 1st August, joining forces with Mersey Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) to remind people of the dangers of open water.
The force has been made aware of an increased number of reports, during the warm weather, of people swimming in open water including canals, docks and rivers across Merseyside.
Yesterday an 18 year-old man tragically died in a lock on the Leeds-Liverpool canal close to Lightbody Street in Liverpool.
Chief Inspector Phil Mullally said: “We know how tempting it can seem, particularly on a hot or humid day, to go swimming in canals or docks, but we want to remind people of the potential dangers and urge them to stay safe around water.
“I would also ask parents to speak to their children about the dangers of playing in and around water. Yesterday we saw the terribly tragic death of a young man in open water and we would not want to see another family suffer in such a way. I would encourage people to read and heed the advice of Mersey Fire and Rescue Service.”
Station Manager Steve Thomas, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s water safety lead and chair of the Merseyside Water Safety Forum, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends following the tragic death of a young man this weekend in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
“We would urge people to make sure they are aware of the dangers of open water, particularly when carrying out activities in and around open water. Sadly we know that around 50% of people who drown in the UK were taking part in normal everyday activities near water at the time and had no intention of entering the water.
“Open water swimming is very different to swimming in a pool and is much more dangerous. Even at this time of year when temperatures are warm, the water is often a lot colder than you expect and can affect your ability to swim – even if you are a good swimmer – and sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock. It is also difficult to judge the depth of open water and steep sides and banks can make it difficult to get out. There are also hidden dangers beneath the surface of the water, including debris which can not only cause serious injury but could potentially cause entrapment. Open water is also often untreated and contains contaminants that can make you extremely ill.”
Tips for staying safe near open water
- Be aware and take notice of any warning signs
- The water is cold – even on very warm days. Sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock, which can cause gasping and intake of water.
- Stay clear of the edge when walking or running near water. River banks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way, particularly after bad weather
- Depth can be difficult to estimate
- You can get in, but can you get out? People often get into difficulty with steep sides and slimy banks
- Debris under the water such as shopping trolleys, broken glass and cans can cause serious injury and trap you
- The water is untreated and can make you ill
- There may be hidden currents
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when carrying out activities in our near water.
- If you or someone else gets into trouble, dial 999 and ask for the Fire & Rescue Service if inland or Coastguard if near the coast.
- Do not enter the water yourself – you could also get into difficulty. Look for something that floats or that they could hold onto and throw it to them.