Fire chiefs in South Yorkshire have issued a warning over open water swimming in warm weather.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it attends dozens of water related incidents each year. Most are flooding or animal related, but others involve rescuing people from open water- particularly during hot weather.
Safety officers say people should avoid open water- like rivers and lakes- because they may not always be aware of the danger it poses.
River flows can be unpredictable and water is often deeper, colder and faster than expected. People should enjoy water safely in swimming pools or safer, specialist facilities instead.
Head of community safety Trevor Bernard, said: “We regularly receive 999 calls in the summer about people getting into difficulty in water, so it’s only a matter of time before someone’s safety is really put at risk unless people listen to our advice.
“It can be tempting to cool off in the summer months, but stick to a swimming pool. Hundreds of people drown each year in the UK and places like rivers, lakes or flooded quarries are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.”
Over 400 people die in the water every year in the UK, and firefighters are urging people to follow some basic rules to stay safe.
They say the dangers of open water are:
- The water can be much deeper than you expect
- Rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs are much colder than you think
- Open water can carry water borne diseases, like Weils disease
- Cold water dramatically affects your ability to swim
- There may be hidden currents, which can pull you under the water
- You don’t know what lies beneath, like pieces of rubbish or reeds which can trap or injure you