AMID the continuing spell of warm weather Welsh Water has issued a reminder of the dangers of unauthorised swimming after having to ask 113 members of the public to leave the water in the space of just two days. The warning comes after at least 6 people lost their lives to accidental drowning in open water in England last weekend.
As temperatures in Wales soar, cases of unauthorised swimmers entering the water at reservoirs have leapt by almost 150%. In fact, the not-for-profit water company recorded almost 60% of its total number of unauthorised swimmers this year in just one weekend.
Keen to enjoy the spell of warmer weather, individuals and families are taking to the water to swim, paddle, or use inflatables, often without full knowledge of the dangers below the surface.
Welsh Water’s Head of Visitor Attractions, Mark Davies said: “Despite looking peaceful from the surface, reservoirs are working bodies of water which conceal hidden machinery which can operate at any time. The water contains strong currents and freezing temperatures which can send swimmers into cold-water shock and overwhelm even the strongest swimmers.
“We know the public want to enjoy the water and we encourage people to visits our sites, but it is crucial that entering the water is only ever done at a safe, supervised session booked through one of our watersports centres. Unauthorised swimming remains banned. By entering the water in unsafe conditions, you are risking your life.”
This week the company has launched its ‘Beautiful but Deadly’ safety campaign urging people in Wales to educate themselves about the dangers hidden below the beautiful surface of some of Wales’ beauty spots.
Chris Cousens the RNLI Water Safety Lead for Wales and Chair of the Water Safety Wales Forum said: “On average 45 people in Wales die from accidental drowning each year. Not only is this completely heart-breaking for the families of victims but it also puts a serious toll on emergency responders, especially those who find themselves working on body recoveries rather than rescue operations.
“Safety advice from Welsh Water and other members of the Water Safety Wales Forum should be taken extremely seriously. If anyone is in trouble in cold water the RNLI encourages them to Float to Live; that means fight the urge to panic and relax and float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can self-rescue or call for help. If you see an emergency in the water, call 999 or 112 and ask for Coastguard at the coast and Fire and Rescue Service at inland waters like reservoirs, rivers or quarries.
‘We are all working to reduce water-related deaths so that the people of Wales can enjoy water safely.”
To mark World Drowning Prevention Day this weekend, rangers and staff working at Welsh Water’s reservoirs have come forward to talk about the personal impact of having to work on rescue and recovery operations as a result of unauthorised swimming.
Visit dwrcymru.com/reservoirsafety for more information