Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue ran a training exercise on the Brayford in Lincoln on Friday 17 April, in support of the Chief Fire Officers Association’s Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week.
Firefighters took to the water to demonstrate how they would rescue someone who has got into trouble, and visited nearby bars and restaurants to hand out safety advice.
The campaign is focusing on raising awareness of the issue of cold water shock, which causes a number of fatalities every year as young people – even those who are strong swimmers – aren’t aware of the effect that it can have on their ability to swim in open water.
Even on a warm day, the temperature of the water in a reservoir, quarry or lake can remain very cold and the shock of cold water creates a physical response that can make it more difficult to swim, and can even cause death. Back in 2013, there were 669 water-related deaths in country.
Spencer Creek, technical response manager for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, says: “While reservoirs, lakes, rivers and other inland water may look safe and inviting, particularly on a warm day, there are hidden dangers below the surface that could make you ill, hurt you, and – at worst – could kill you.
“Cold Water Shock is a physical response that can not only affect your breathing, but will reduce your muscle ability and can even lead to a heart attack. Moving water, such as rivers, may look calm but may have strong currents below the surface which can carry even strong swimmers into danger. And, of course, from out of the water, or above, you may not be able to see dangerous obstructions such as large rocks or dead branches that can cause you injury.
“You may also want to consider the fact that open water is untreated, and may be polluted with bacteria and algae that can give you stomach upsets, or even with organisms that can cause a number of nasty illnesses including Weil’s Disease, Trachoma and Whipworm.”