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STAY SAFE – avoid open water swimming

Published on Tuesday, 23rd May 2023

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, alongside partner Warwickshire Police, are advising people against swimming in open bodies of water.

Lakes, pools, rivers, canals and quarries are all examples of bodies of open water which can carry many dangers for swimmers which can be fatal.

The risk is especially high if you are swimming alone and have no one there to assist if you get into difficulties. There is also a risk to others who can lose their lives in attempting a rescue.

People regularly get into difficulties and even experienced swimmers can find themselves quickly in trouble.

The water is usually much colder than people expect – particularly if people move away from the shore or enter deep water, there are hidden currents, unexpected obstacles and weeds under the water which people get caught up in and cramp can quickly set in.

The water is also often unclean and carries a risk of catching waterborne diseases such as Weil’s disease – caused by rat’s urine.

Many of our lakes are also used for fishing, which means there could be fishing line in and around the water, which swimmers could get tangled in.

Children and teenagers, who do not realise the dangers, are attracted to such activities.

Therefore, we are asking parents to talk to their children to highlight the dangers.

We understand the temptation to take a dip outdoors to cool off in hot weather, but please stick to using one of the borough’s fantastic indoor pools or leisure centres.

It is the advice of Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, THAT THE ONLY WAY TO STAY SAFE IS TO KEEP OUT OF THE WATER.

If you see someone in difficulty in the water – call the emergency services, DO NOT ENTER THE WATER yourself, we recommend that the following action should be taken:

  • Call for assistance from the emergency services
  • Do not attempt to go into the water
  • Instruct the casualty to keep still to maintain heat and energy
  • Try to find something that will extend your reach, such as a rope, pole, branch or item of clothing
  • Throw this or reach out to the casualty with it. Then, making sure that you are stable on the bank by lying down or getting someone to hold onto you, attempt to pull the person to shore
  • If you cannot find something with which to perform a reach rescue, try to find something that will float, to throw or push out to them until assistance arrives
  • Keep talking to the casualty to reassure them
  • If the rescue is successful the casualty will need to be kept warm and treated for shock and should be taken to hospital even if they appear to be unaffected by their ordeal

Cllr Julian Gutteridge, Portfolio Holder for Health and Environment said:

“The safety of our residents and visitors is of paramount importance and we want to ensure that everyone can enjoy our parks and open spaces in the safest way possible.

“Please help us to share these important messages and talk to your children.”

Chief Inspector Steve Davies, Local Policing Commander for North Warwickshire, said:

“In recent years in Warwickshire we have sadly seen the devastating consequences that can come from swimming in open bodies of water and the impact this has on families and the local community.

“We do routinely patrol areas used for open water swimming over the summer and offer words of advice to people.

“Parents have a key role to play in helping to keep their children safe by knowing where they are and what they are doing and talking to them about the dangers.”

For further information, visit the RoSPA website.