'Cold water shock can kill': Warning over outdoor swimming as heatwave draws crowds to Northampton lake

Northamptonshire Fire Service is asking people to not swim in unsafe water after a large group were spotted taking a dip at a lake in Delapre.

Friday, 26th July 2019, 12:43 pm
Last week firefighters demonstrated a 'person rescue' at the University of Northampton whereby a firefighter goes into the water - in full kit - to rescue someone who might have fallen unconscious. (File picture).

Swimmers were spotted at the lake off Eagle Drive and Ransome Road in Delapre yesterday evening ( July 25) as temperatures across Northampton peaked at 35 degrees in the second hottest day on record.

It comes only a week after Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) launched its water safety campaign this summer after revealing 16 people had died in the past 10 years.

While some people might think the water is safe the reality is jumpers could get feet trapped, bang their head and fall unconscious in shallow water or catch a deadly disease from blue algae.

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"Please only swim in designated swimming areas - cold water shock can kill."

Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service has issued the following water safety advice:

- Do not dive or ‘tombstone’ into open water. It is not always easy to judge the height of a fall and there may be submerged objects which cannot be seen. It is also likely to be colder than you think.

- If you are drinking alcohol on a night out, remember to take a route home away from waterways and make sure your friends get home safely too.

- Avoid walking or running near water in the dark or in slippery conditions/bad weather.

- UK water temperatures are 10-15°C, even in summer. This is chilly enough to cause cold water shock, making you gasp uncontrollably and breathe in water which can quickly lead to drowning. Cold water can affect your ability to swim out of trouble.

- Always supervise young children around water, whether at a pool or at the beach and regardless or not of whether they can swim.

- It is great to enjoy warm weather, but please do this safely. On the beach, swim in between the flags and make sure you are on a beach which has a lifeguard. Do not swim at unsupervised sites, including quarries, reservoirs and rivers.

- If you know someone has fallen into water, call 999 straightaway. If you don’t have a phone, shout for help but do not enter the water. Emergency services will need as much information as possible to pinpoint where you are. Look for landmarks, signs on bridges or use mobile phone location app or map to help. If there is rescue equipment nearby, throw this to them.

- If you fall into water, keep calm and try to float on your back, belly up and with arms and legs stretched into a star shape. Gently move your hands and feet to help you float. When you are calm, raise your arm and shout for help.

- Human nature says you are likely to attempt to help while rescue services are on the way, but never enter the water to try to save someone as this can add to the problem. If you go into the water, you could also suffer from cold water shock, which will leave you unable to help, even if you are a strong swimmer.