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Rising temperatures prompt warning to take care near open water

WARNINGS about the dangers of drowning in local reservoirs, nature reserves and quarries have been made as temperatures rise and Drowning Prevention Week begins.

Drowning Prevention Week runs from June 18-25, with the aim of raising awareness of water safety ahead of a summer of outdoor activities.

More than 400 people accidentally drown across the British Isles each year, and the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 40 incidents over the last two years.

A recent survey conducted by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS), which organizes the awareness campaign, found that 44 per cent of accidental drownings happen between May and August – and more than 46 per cent of those involved never intended to be in the toilet.

Water supplier Severn Trent has urged people to keep out of its reservoirs because of strong currents, freezing temperatures and hidden dangers under the surface.

Dan Taberner, Visitor Experience Manager at Severn Trent, said: “It’s always fantastic to see people enjoying our wonderful sites and while we really want to encourage people to enjoy themselves in the lovely weather, we’d like to remind people to stay out of the water.

“We know how tempting reservoirs can look in the warm weather, but we don’t have lifeguards on site or safe swimming areas, so we’d ask visitors to not take that risk.”

The rangers at Warwickshire’s Country Parks, operated by Warwickshire County Council (WCC), are reminding visitors to take extra care.

The industrial heritage of the sites means there may be unknown dangers lurking beneath the water.

Swimming isn’t permitted at any of the Country Parks, in part due to the poor water quality that arises from the presence of blue algae and proximity to sewage works.

WCC’s Fire & Rescue and Community Safety spokesman Coun Andy Crump said: “The advice offered by the Royal Life Saving Society can help everyone across the county enjoy water safely.

“Many young people missed out on the chance to learn how to swim safely, due to the impacts of Covid, and so the messages brought to the forefront by Drowning Awareness Week couldn’t be more relevant.”

The RLSS has created the following Water Safety Code to help keep people safe when close to open water.

  • Stop and Think – Take time to assess your surroundings. Look for dangers and always research local signs and advice
  • Stay together – When around water, always go with friends and family. Only swim at a lifeguarded venue.
  • In an emergency, call 999 – Ask for the Fire & Rescue service when inland and the Coastguard if at the coast. Don’t enter the water to attempt a rescue.
  • Float – if you fall in and become tired, stay calm, float on your back and call for help. Throw something that floats to someone that has fallen in.

Angling is a popular draw to both Ryton Pools and Kingsbury Water Park, and the RLSS has five tips to keep safe while fishing:

  • Know how to perform CPR and learn some basic lifesaving skills.
  • Always wear a floatation vest and nonslip shoes or boots.
  • When you arrive at your spot, take a moment to stop and think. Assess the area and choose a safe spot with good footing.
  • Take a mobile phone with you. If you see someone in trouble in the water, don’t enter the water to perform a rescue – instead call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service when inland, and the Coastguard if at the coast.
  • If you fall into the water. Stay calm, float on your back, and call for help.

Visit https://www.rlss.org.uk/ to learn more about the Drowning Awareness Week campaign.

Visit https://countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk for more information about Warwickshire’s Country Parks.

Visit https://tinyurl.com/9r48nyd3 for more information about Severn Trent’s visitor sites.

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