Reservoirs and other water bodies can often look idyllic, a perfect place to spend a beautiful day; this can be particularly so as we all look to spend more time outdoors and embrace the staycation over the summer.
However, that calm exterior can carry real danger that everyone should be aware of.
In order to help make this summer safe for everyone, NI Water would like to remind the public that there is no time for complacency around water and put out a strong message to the community, especially children and young people, to take care around all bodies of water.
As more of us embrace new activities and pastimes in the water, there is no better time to remind ourselves of the dangers and the importance of remaining vigilant at all times.
Reservoirs are often great places for a walk or cycle but even an innocent paddle in the water can quickly turn into an emergency.
Cathy Uprichard, Head of Safety, Health and Environment at NI Water, explains, there is a real danger lying beneath the surface.
She said, “Understandably, a reservoir can look like the perfect place to cool down on a warm day, but while it may look safe, it can be very dangerous. You may swim well in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that you will be able to swim in extremely cold water.
“It is also a shocking statistic that according to the Water Incident Database (WAID), which was develop by the National Water Forum, that in almost half (43%) of the accidental drowning deaths across the UK in 2020, people had no intention to enter the water. Causes included slips, trips, falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves.
“WAID also highlight that inland open waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries continue to be the leading locations for accidental drowning and unintended entry into the water accounting for 58% of deaths! This further emphasises the need to remain vigilant and treat our waterways with respect.
“The dangers include:
- Very cold temperatures; the water can be bitterly cold even in summer months.
- Strong underwater currents, which can trouble even the most confident of swimmers.
- Reservoirs are often very deep, much deeper than you expect.
- There may be hidden debris or underwater hazards which can cause injury, including weeds and plants, pumps / mechanical equipment which can entangle you under the water.
- It can be very difficult to get out of the water (steep slimy banks).
- There are no lifeguards on duty.
“We want everyone to have a fantastic summer, but always resist the temptation to cool off in a reservoir or a quarry; a quick dip really could mean a quick death!’’
The National Water Safety Forum have some important advice if you get into difficulty around water:
1. Float to Live. Lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float, then get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming to safety.
2. If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112. If you are at the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland, ask for the fire service.