safety reminder - lakes, rivers, canals

Even good swimmers can be caught out by hidden dangers

Firefighters are urging people not to be tempted to take a dip in rivers, lakes or canals during the current hot weather.

Joanne Cook, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: "Even good swimmers can be caught out by hidden dangers such as fast currents, deep holes, soft mud, weeds or rubbish. Any stretch of water, still or flowing, has the capability to kill.

"Every year, countless people suffer injuries or fall ill after swimming in the UK's inland waterways, and in some cases lose their lives."

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has Water Rescue Units based at Newport Pagnell Fire Station and Beaconsfield Fire Station.

The dangers of swimming in open waterways include:
  • Risk of drowning.
  • Cold water shock, a physical response by your body when entering cold water, can affect your breathing, reduce your muscle ability and can even lead to a heart attack. 
  • Risk of catching diseases including Weil's disease - any open wounds can become infected. 
  • Water can be deep with hidden hazards such as shopping trolleys, fishing hooks, broken glass or water weed.
  • Remote sites also make it hard for the emergency services to reach casualties.

Joanne asked people to remember these safety tips:

  • The safest place to swim is in a supervised swimming pool. The water is clean, clear and warm, and there are lifeguards on hand if something goes wrong.
  • Warn your children of the risks, and know where they are when they are out playing.
  • Act responsibly near water, and never swim, even where allowed, after drinking alcohol.
  • If you see a swimmer is in difficulty or there is a risk of drowning, call 999 
  • At home, keep small children away from ponds and pools and make sure they are supervised in the bath.