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'Stay Out and Stay Safe' this Summer

08 August 2011

YORKSHIRE Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people to take extra care in and around open water over the summer months. 

Every year the service is called to a number of incidents across the county where people have required emergency medical attention after swimming in rivers, reservoirs, ponds, quarries, lakes and canals.

Traditionally these incidents occur when the warm weather sets in and when schools break up for the summer holidays as more people head to one of the region’s waterways to enjoy a day out.

Sarah Fatchett (pictured left), Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “The county’s many waterways are popular destinations for people during the summer months, which can make them dangerous places for those who take risks. Traditionally ambulance service call outs to open water rescues increase during the summer as people attempt to cool off and then get into difficulty.

“This year ambulance clinicians will be called to incidents where people have not thought about their actions and endangered themselves by entering open water.

“It may be very appealing to jump into the water to cool off on a warm summer’s day but people need to be aware of how dangerous it really is. Water can look calm on the surface but contain unseen debris and, rivers in particular, can have treacherous undercurrents.

“Although it is banned, people are also often tempted to swim in reservoirs without realising that there is automatic equipment located under the surface which can operate without warning and cause dangerous hidden currents.

“Furthermore, the temperature of deep water is much colder than people would expect and, even on a hot summer’s day, rarely gets above freezing. This is cold enough to take your breath away, which is the body's natural reaction and cannot be controlled, possibly leading to panic and drowning. Cold can also make your arms and legs numb which means you can't control them to swim and can also lead to hypothermia - a serious reduction in body temperature - which can cause heart failure.

“Several lives have already been lost this year across the UK and we don’t want to see anyone else hurt or injured so the message is simple; enjoy the summer, stay out of open water and stay safe!”

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department