Staffordshire County Council is renewing calls for people not to cool off in potentially dangerous lakes, reservoirs and quarries, as temperatures are set to reach the high twenties in some parts of the county over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
Around 85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites. Many of these drownings occur due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of open water safety.
Latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that 263 people lost their lives in accidental drownings in the UK in 2018.
Open water swimming is dangerous; inland water can be as cold as two degrees, even in summer, and is rarely warmer than 10 degrees. Cold water can seriously affect the strength and stamina of even the strongest swimmers.
It can also cause ‘cold water shock’ which can lead to sudden loss of consciousness and drowning. Prolonged periods in cold water can also lead to hypothermia.
Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said: “As we are expecting some hot weather for the Bank Holiday Weekend, some people may be tempted to head to an open water sites to cool down. This can present real dangers even to the most experienced of swimmers.
“Swimming in open water is completely different to swimming in a safe, controlled swimming pool and can be very dangerous. People wanting to take up open water swimming should only do so with organised groups and experienced instructors. We want people to have a safe and enjoyable time this summer and would certainly encourage people to swim in one of the many public pools across Staffordshire.”
National guidance on preventing drowning can be found here: www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water
Residents are also being advised to ‘beat the heat’ and take care during the hot weather.
The top ways for ‘beating the heat’ are to:
- look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
- close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
- drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated
- never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
- try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
- walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat
- avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
- wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
- make sure you take water with you if you are travelling