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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Water safety warning issued as school holidays get underway

01/08/2017

New boat
Water rescue unit

Parents and guardians in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are being urged to know where their children are playing throughout the summer holidays and to talk to them about water safety.

"We urge parents to be particularly vigilant during the school holidays. If you spot your children taking swimwear and towels out, challenge them and ask where they are going and advise them that under no circumstances should they swim in ponds, lakes, rivers or other areas of unsupervised water. Make sure they understand the risks involved."

Prevent Manager Carmel Warren

With recent bad weather it may seem unlikely that children will want to go for a swim but when temperatures do increase so do the chances of injuries and deaths in open water.

Schools across the region have now finished for the summer and many children will be out and about with friends, enjoying the summer and looking for adventure.  But with the warmer weather comes concern as groups of children/teenagers are often seen playing in or around rivers, canals, and reservoirs across the county.

Prevent Manager Carmel Warren said: “While we want children and young people to enjoy the summer, we want them to be safe. As an emergency service all too often we see the devastation caused when things go wrong.

“Later this month (August) it will be the three year anniversary of Kai Lambe’s death. He was just nine-years-old when he drowned at Tutbury weir, Burton-on-Trent, after going in to try to help a friend who had gotten into trouble. This tragedy highlights the dangers of open water and underlines the importance of our work to try to prevent future heartbreak.

“The water can appear very tempting when you’re hot and in need of a cool down, but there are so many hidden dangers that make an outdoor dip life-threatening. 

"We urge parents to be particularly vigilant during the school holidays. If you spot your children taking swimwear and towels out, challenge them and ask where they are going and advise them that under no circumstances should they swim in ponds, lakes, rivers or other areas of unsupervised water. Make sure they understand the risks involved.

“Our water rescue teams carry out regular training sessions to familiarise themselves with local waterways. For example, the Tamworth Water Rescue Unit will be in the Rolleston area on Sunday August 13 and our prevent teams are also working with partners to make children and young people across the county aware of the risks of open water swimming.”

Water safety

Open water may seem enticing, but it can be extremely dangerous.  Swimming outdoors is completely different to a warm swimming pool, the water is much colder in reservoirs and quarries, so much so that it can force the body to go into shock, causing muscle cramps and breathing difficulties. 

Other dangers include:

  • Hidden currents
  • Fast flowing water, beware of locks and weirs
  • Deep water
  • Hidden dangers, such as rocks, rubbish and debris which can trap or cause cuts
  • No lifeguards to help if you get into difficulty

For more information about keeping safe near open water visit the water safety area of the Service's website by clicking here.