Water firm issues reservoir safety message

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Yorkshire Water has today issued another warning urging the public not to swim in its reservoirs.

With the current heatwave forecast to stay for at least another week, the water company has joined forces with two of the region’s emergency services to reiterate the message not to swim in reservoirs.

Geoff Lomas, Recreation and Catchment Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Reservoirs are extremely dangerous due to the chilling temperatures and the potential for strong under currents beneath the surface.

“What began as a day out in the sunshine can turn to tragedy within minutes if you decide to take a dip. It really doesn’t matter how well you can swim as it’s the cold which can kill you.

“Most people won’t realise that, as soon as your body feels the shock of cold water, it’s natural defences kick in. The first sign of trouble is hyperventilation but, if the swimmer stays in the water, the body will gradually shut down to protect the vital organs and muscles will got into cramp.

“The victim will be unable to remain afloat and will sink below the surface and, if help doesn’t arrive within seconds, they will drown.”

Sometimes it’s alcohol which clouds their judgement and sometimes it’s bravado.

Yorkshire Water advises all those visiting their reservoir sites over the summer months to enjoy the scenic views and to pay particular attention to all safety signs warning people about the dangers.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Manager Ian Thompson, who is a Technical Rescue Officer, said: “Too often in the past people have been drawn to the cooling waters on a hot day, only to find that they are simply not capable of functioning in the low temperatures encountered in the deeper water.

“Often this results in a call to the emergency services and in some instances with a fatal outcome. Time is crucial when it comes to helping someone in trouble, if you see someone in distress in the water dial 999 immediately.”

Vince Larvin, Locality Director of Emergency Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance NHS Trust, said: “Yorkshire’s many waterways are popular destinations for people during the summer months, which can make them dangerous places for those who don’t understand the risks they are taking.

“It may be very appealing to jump into the reservoir to cool off on a warm summer’s day but people need to be aware of how dangerous this really is.

“Lives have already been lost this year across the UK and we don’t want to see anyone else hurt or injured so the message is simple; enjoy the summer, stay out of the reservoirs and stay safe.”

In June, a 38-year-old man died after swimming in Snailsden reservoir in South Yorkshire, the latest in a series of deaths at the company’s sites.