Risks ranging from cold water shock to hidden currents all pose a danger to people′s lives when swimming in open water.
Northumbrian Water does not allow unauthorised swimming or launching of water craft in its reservoirs, but Rangers at its Waterside Parks had to ask more than a dozen people to get out of the water at its sites across the North East on Wednesday alone.
In one instance, a child believed to be as young as five was swimming while his mother watched on from the side. And at Derwent Waterside Park, two groups of people were told to get out of the water. At Waskerley Reservoir, a group of naked men, who were also asked to get out of the water, had been dangerously swimming close to the pipes that draw water from the reservoir for release into the river.
On the same day, there were no fewer than six instances of people launching blow-up dinghies on the water, containing children as young as four. Such craft are not allowed on Northumbrian Water′s reservoirs, with dangers including people falling in and winds blowing them further from the shores.
Don Coe, Northumbrian Water′s Waterside Parks Manager, said: "We don′t ban swimming in our reservoirs to stop people having fun - we do it to stop people dying. There have been some really tragic incidents in other parts of the country already during the hot spell and it′s horrific to think that it could happen here in the North East, either at one of our sites, or in a river, lake or other open water.
"Many of the dangers involved with being in or around water are hidden, so you don′t know about them until it′s too late.
"We want people to enjoy visiting our reservoirs, but when you′re around water it only takes a moment for that to turn to tragedy.
"We would urge everyone to stay out of the water, and to even be really careful around the edge of open water. Anybody who enters the water puts their own lives at risk, and they also risk the lives of anyone - whether it′s someone from the fire and rescue service or one of our team."
Swimming clubs and organised events are permitted, subject to the advanced agreement of Northumbrian Water.
People are urged to follow these safety tips, to help themselves and others to stay safe.
• Take notice of any safety advice or warning signs, such as no swimming signs, a red flag or danger deep water signs.
• Always accompany children. Stay close to your group and stay in sight at all times.
• Never go near water if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs - this is the number one cause of water-related deaths.
• Stay clear of strong currents, weirs, rapids and reservoir edges.
• Watch out for slippery banks, soft sand and rocks.
• Don′t jump or dive in - you don′t know how deep it is going to be.
• Wear something on your feet. There may be sharp rocks, rubbish or broken glass under the water.
• Messing around can be dangerous - don′t splash water at other people or push them over.
• Get out of the water as soon as you start to feel cold.
• If you accidentally fall in, don′t panic. Lean back, relax and try to float until you catch your breath and you can safely swim back or call for help.
• Never go deeper than welly height when playing in rivers as the strong current can easily knock you over.
• Cover any cuts and scratches with water proof plasters. Weil′s Disease can be caught from rat urine.
• Learn to swim - it could save your life.
A full water safety checklist is available at www.nwl.co.uk/your-home/learn-about-water/water-safety.aspx
For further media information, call 0191 3015678.
Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water, and 1.8 million customers in the South East with water services, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.
In 2017 Northumbrian Water was named Utility of the Year at the Utility Week Awards, for the second time in four years. The company has followed this up in 2018 by winning the UK Excellence Award at the British Quality Foundation (BQF) UK Excellence Awards, and Water Company of the Year at the Water Industry Achievement Awards. Northumbrian Water also received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for sustainable development for a second time in 2014, which is accredited for five years. This recognises the company as a business which benefits the environment, society and the economy.
Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham DH1 5FJ. Telephone 0345 6047468. Website: www.nwl.co.uk