With another heatwave hitting the region this week, Northumbrian Water is expecting a lot of visitors to its Waterside Parks sites.
Locations such as Derwent, Fontburn and Kielder reservoirs see a huge increase in footfall when the sun is shining, but unfortunately this can also lead to visitors ignoring signs and messages aimed at keeping people safe and out of danger.
As a result, they go into or onto the water, putting themselves and others at risk.
Waterside Parks manager Don Coe said: “Entering or going onto the water is not allowed at any of our reservoirs, so we would urge people to not swim or paddle in them and to not go on the water in things like dinghies.
“Our reservoirs are very beautiful and it may be tempting to take a dip on a hot day, but they are operational sites so there are many hidden dangers underneath the water.
“These can include unknown depths, extremely cold water, machinery and really strong underwater currents, as the water is pumped from the reservoir through to the water supply chain so even the strongest of swimmers can get into serious difficulty.”
Cold water shock is another reason to avoid entering the reservoirs, as this can kill in less than a minute.
Don added: “Even when the sun is out and the weather is hot, the water underneath the surface can be really cold as the heat of the sun cannot reach it.
“As you enter the water, your body goes into shock. You automatically gasp for air, which means you can inhale water into the lungs, leading to drowning. The cold water can also cause abnormal heart rhythms with could lead to a heart attack, even in healthy young people.”
Sarah Litt, Community Safety Team Leader at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service added: “We understand that going into open water can be tempting, especially when it is warm and sunny, but we are encouraging all members of the public not to take risks.
“Although the water looks inviting from the surface, it is still cold enough to induce Cold Water Shock, not to mention the dangers lurking beneath that you cannot see from the surface.
“Many of our crews have already been out and about attending local water risk area sites in our station area to give advice to the public whilst also carrying out water rescue safety training.”
Station Manager Jonny Ramanayake, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention and Education team, said the Service had performed more than 100 water based rescues since the beginning of the year.
He said: “Tragic deaths across the country, including here in the North East in recent weeks have been a harrowing reminder of how dangerous open water can be.
“These are heart-breaking circumstances in which to provide water safety advice, but the tragedies of these last few weeks underline why it is so important. Please be careful around water this summer.
“It will be hot at times, but we cannot stress enough the risks of cold-water shock, and the effect this has on even the most competent of swimmers.
“Please only consider entering water in controlled environments where there are lifeguards on duty, and do not go for a swim in rivers, lakes, or unsupervised bodies of water where there could be a number of hidden dangers.
“If you do get in trouble then try and ‘Float to Live’. You can do this by leaning back, using our arms and legs to help you, and stay calm until help can arrive. This will preserve energy and could save your life.”
For more information visit www.respectthewater.com