Sandwell Council has put out a summer holiday warning on the dangers of open water at the borough’s lakes, pools, ponds, canals and rivers.
The council warns that all open water can be particularly inviting during periods of warm weather and people are often tempted to swim in them.
Water may feel warm on the surface, but just a few feet below can be icy cold, even in the hot weather, and can very quickly cause severe cramp and hypothermia.
Young people can often misjudge their swimming ability – they may view a river or lake as a tempting means of cooling off during a hot spell of weather, but fail to appreciate the harmful effects that the cold water can have on their stamina and strength.
Councillor Maria Crompton, cabinet member for safer communities, said: “This is a very important warning because too often across the country there are tragedies where people get in trouble as they go into open water.
“So we are urging people, particularly children and teenagers, not to swim anywhere other than in purpose-built and supervised swimming pools. I really hope that people take this message seriously – and that parents make a point of warning their children.”
Free swimming is available for Sandwell children aged 16 and under at Sandwell leisure centres during school holidays. Go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/freeswimming for more information on how to register.
Key safety tips for staying safe near water
The following are some key safety tips for staying safe near water:
- Alcohol and swimming do not mix – stay out of the water if you have been drinking.
- Always watch your child around open water.
- Do not swim near boats or other water craft.
- Never interfere with lifesaving equipment – you might need it yourself.
- Learn to spot and keep away from dangerous water.
- Take safety advice – heed notices which warn you of the danger.
- Children should always visit open water sites with a grown-up.
- Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.