Never Risk it at the Reservoir

A third of people in the North West admit they would consider swimming in a reservoir to cool down, new research has revealed. United Utilities, which owns 180 reservoirs across the region, conducted the research ahead of the peak summer season, when risk takers are most likely to take the plunge. With latest statistics revealing 300 people in the UK lost their lives in 2016 due to accidental drowning (source: National Water Safety Forum), Hyndburn Council is urging teens and their parents to stay safe this summer, by staying out of the reservoir.

Cllr Clare Cleary said, ‘Reservoirs are about the worst possible place to cool down this summer. They have hidden machinery, unpredictable currents and freezing, muscle-numbing water and even the strongest swimmers can quickly find themselves in difficulty.

‘We’d urge teenagers not to be tempted to swim in their local reservoir no matter how hot it gets. Please stay safe, and stay out.’

North West water safety campaigner Beckie Ramsay, whose teenage son Dylan tragically died in 2011 after swimming in a quarry, said, ‘Nobody is stronger than water. Even when the sun is hot, the water can be freezing, sending the body into shock.

‘Dylan was one of hundreds of people who die every year in open water, leaving behind families who face a lifetime of pain. I’d urge all young people, and their parents, to find out about the dangers. Before entering the water, people need to stop and think, ‘could this happen to me? Could I be a Dylan?’

United Utilities’ research reveals: – 33% of the North West would consider swimming in a reservoir to cool down in hot weather.

– Teenagers can be easily swayed by peer pressure. Almost half of North West teenagers say they have taken risks they now regret. 7% said they would take the plunge in a reservoir if others were doing it.

– 10 % of those surveyed admitted that they, or their friends, had tried ‘tombstoning’ – jumping into the water from a high platform such as bridge or cliff).

Matt Upton, United Utilities’ Water Catchment Manager said, ‘We’re expecting thousands of visitors to our reservoir sites this summer. We only have one condition – please stay out of the water. The last thing we want is for a fun day out to turn into a tragedy. While teenagers are the most likely to put themselves in harm’s way, we’ve seen adults and even parents with young children taking the plunge, not realising just how much danger they are in.  We don’t want to stop people from having an adventurous summer.  But there are much safer ways to get an adrenaline fix.’

 The chilling facts about reservoirs:

  • Reservoir temperatures rarely get above 10 degrees, even in summer. They are cold enough to take your breath away, make your arms and legs numb, and induce hypothermia.
  • Reservoirs are often extremely deep, with sudden drops you cannot see.
  • There may be hidden currents from water pipes below the surface.
  • Hidden obstacles, such as machinery for water treatment, broken glass or other rubbish, is commonplace.
  • It’s hard to get out. The sides of reservoirs are often very steep.
  • Reservoirs are often in isolated places. If you get into trouble, there may be no one around to help.

More information, including video content and a pack for teachers, is available on the United Utilities website