Mid Ulster District Council is warning people about the importance of water safety and urging them not to put themselves in danger, especially in any quarries, loughs, lakes and open water where swimming is not permitted.
The advice follows the sustained period of hot weather, coupled with children finishing school for the summer, a combination which leads to large numbers of people, especially young people, opting to cool down in water, often in areas where swimming is not allowed or where there are no life guards or life-saving equipment.
An average of 40 to 50 children drown each year in the UK.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake said:
“With the recent hot weather we understand that it’s difficult to keep cool. However, we are seeing more and more people putting themselves in danger around open water and worryingly, we are also seeing throw lines being stolen or tampered with.
“While the water may look safe, it can hide hidden currents, hazardous objects, pollution and can also cause cold water shock, which affects our ability to swim and reach safety if experiencing difficulties. It can also be difficult to gauge water depth - you could find yourself in unexpectedly deep water or injure yourself jumping into shallow water.
“We are urging local people, particularly children, to be vigilant, swim safely and only where they are permitted”.
The dangers of open water include:
• It is very cold in comparison to indoor pools or shallow water – the initial shock of falling into the open water may cause panic and the weight of their clothing will make it more difficult to swim
• There may be hidden currents
• It can be difficult to get out of open water with steep and slimy muddy banks or vertical mooring points
• It can be deep with hidden shelves and sharp drop-offs close to the bank’s edge
• There may be hidden rubbish hiding below the water surface
• There are no lifeguards or lifesaving aids nearby
• The water may be polluted with chemicals and may make you ill.
Learn how to keep you and your family safe when you are near open water with advice by the RLSS at https://rlss.org.uk/water-safety/water-safety/water-safety-in-open-water/