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Water safety warning

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With summer around the corner, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is urging people to take extra care near open water such as the counties' rivers, quarries and canals.

In 2013, there were 669 water-related fatalities in the UK, which is two-and-a-half times the number of people that died in house fires in 2012/13. During the summer months, the Service frequently sees a peak in water-related incidents. HWFRS aim to prevent these incidents within the community and highlight the dangers that open waters pose.

At this time of year, cold water shock is a particular concern as the temperature of the air may be considerably higher than that of the water. Low temperatures can numb limbs, cause breathing difficulties and ultimately result in drowning.

Group Commander Adrian Elliott said: "Although the water might be inviting, it also very dangerous. Many people don't understand that even strong swimmers can find themselves in difficulty as the cold water can cause a cold-shock response. This can cause your heart rate to behave abnormally, resulting in sudden death. It can also cause your muscles to cramp and your body to shiver, which can lead to drowning."

He continued; "We get called to many water-related incidents, particularly when the weather begins to get warmer and more people are tempted to take a dip to cool off. Sadly, there have been cases where people have lost their lives in these circumstances. We encourage people to think twice before entering open water and recognise the dangers involved."

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service urge people to take note of the following water safety advice:

Avoid swimming in rivers, lakes, quarries and canals. The water can be cold enough to cause difficulty for even the most experienced swimmers and there may be hidden depths or currents, or debris under the water that could cause injury or infection.

Never dive or jump from bridges. You can never be sure how deep the water is, and you could easily suffer serious injury.

Take care near river banks, which can be slippery. Keep away from the river's edge and closely supervise young children at all times.

Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Stay together near water so that if one person should get into difficulty, there is still someone who can call for help.

Take notice of warning signs, safety information or flags near the water's edge.

Be aware that there may be strong currents, even where the surface of the water appears calm.

Please visit our website at www.hwfire.org.uk for additional water safety information.

ENDS

Issued by Jessica Chadwick

Communications Officer

01905 368 319

JChadwick@hwfire.org.uk