AS the warm weather continues, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is issuing warnings to anyone tempted to cool off with a swim in a river, canal, lake or reservoir.
The Service is regularly called to incidents where people get into difficulties in the water and with another warm weekend predicted, it is hoped people will think before they sink.
The warning is particularly poignant following the sad death of a 16-year-old boy who got into difficulties in the River Etherow in Broadbottom on Tuesday, July 19.
Assistant County Fire Officer Geoff Harris, GMFRS’ Director of Prevention and Protection, said: “Swimming in open waters is far different to swimming in a public pool. The temperature can claim your life in minutes – even if you are a strong swimmer.
“On entering the water the body goes through an automatic gasp reflex, which can lead to water being breathed into the lungs. In cold water blood flows to the core of the body to protect vital organs, meaning muscles in the arms and legs don’t work well, which often leads to people getting into difficulties because they lose movement.
“The heart can also be affected as it works harder to pump blood throughout the body and because of the shock the body feels on entering the water. Hypothermia due to the temperatures is a real risk and many people have been known to hyperventilate, which can lead to unconsciousness.
“Furthermore, there is no supervision, no lifeguards on hand, no suitable steps to get in and out of the water and there is no way of knowing the depth of the water, the current or what lies beneath the surface. People can dive in and become trapped in weeds or even hit their heads on sharp objects.
“Quite often we find it is young people feeling pressure from friends to take risks around water. We would urge people to look after each other and think before getting involved. ”
GMFRS offers the following advice:
- Swim somewhere safe such as the swimming baths
- Obey the warning signs around reservoirs, lakes, canals, rivers and at the beach
- Value your own safety first – jumping into the water to rescue pets or belongings can be highly dangerous
- Know what to do in an emergency – ring 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service. Explain your location clearly and describe any landmarks.
- Enjoy organised water sports in a safe environment – with the correct equipment and a qualified instructor
For more information on how to stay safe around the water, visit the website http://www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/seasonal_safety/water_safety.aspx