Warwickshire Fire Service spells out dangers of open water as temperatures rise - The Rugby Observer

Warwickshire Fire Service spells out dangers of open water as temperatures rise

Rugby Editorial 30th Apr, 2023   0

THE DANGERS of open water have been underlined by Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS) with temperatures expected to increase.

WFRS is warning people of the risk of drowning when in or around water.

In 2021, 277 people in the UK died from drowning in inland and coastal locations – 40 per cent of whom slipped, tripped or fell into the water.

Many others underestimate the risk of jumping into water where unseen hazards and cold water can endanger even the strongest swimmers.

A WFRS spokesperson said: “Warwickshire has a wide variety of lakes, quarries and waterways, all of which carry hidden dangers.

“Even on a warm day the temperature in open water can remain very cold, causing cold water shock – a physical reaction which can make it difficult to control breathing, cause panic and make it difficult to swim.”

WFRS is urging people who get into difficulty in the water not to panic and to ‘Float To Live’. This means leaning back in the water and spreading arms and legs to stay afloat, controlling breathing, and – when the effects of cold water shock have passed – call out for help or swim to safety.

The spokesperson added: “If someone is in trouble in water, call 999 and ask for the fire service. It’s important you call for help rather than entering the water to attempt a rescue as this can often result in emergency services needing to find and rescue more people from the water.”

WFRS’s Community Fire Prevention and Arson Manager Moreno Francioso said: “We know that as temperatures start to rise, swimming in open water can be a real attraction, but the water is very deceiving and can often take you under, especially if you dive. Add cold water shock to the mix and you’ve got the potential for fatal consequences.

“Our advice to anyone considering going into the water is to simply not do it. However, we know that we know that people will still be tempted. So if you are out with friends and you do decide to swim, don’t drink alcohol, as this will inhibit your ability and perception of risk and will leave you unable to deal with the shock of cold water.

“Even if you are a strong swimmer you are still liable to dangers such as cold water shock, which affects your ability to swim and can have severe effects on your body in a matter of minutes. The best way to stay safe is to avoid swimming in open water and ensure you only enter water where there is adequate supervision and rescue cover.

“If you see someone in trouble in water, don’t enter the water yourself. Call 999 and ask for the fire service. Remember, if you do fall in, don’t struggle, stay calm and simply float or gently tread water. Staying calm can be the difference between life and death.”

Visit www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water for more information on how to stay safe near water.

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