Campaign to keep young people safe

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Play Safe and don’t put your life at risk.

That’s the message as The Star launches a new campaign to help keep South Yorkshire children safe during their six-week summer holiday.

It comes as South Yorkshire fire chiefs revealed youngsters in South Yorkshire are still putting their lives in danger by swimming in reservoirs and waterways.

A fire service spokesman said they had been alerted to a number of incidents.

“It can be tempting to cool off in hot weather, but stick to a swimming pool,” he warned young people.

“Hundreds of people drown each year in the UK and it’s not unusual for us to be called out to reports of people getting into difficulty by swimming in rivers, lakes or flooded quarries.

“These sorts of places are completely unsuitable for swimming, with a number of hidden dangers.

“The water can be much deeper than you expect, and rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs are much colder than you think. Cold water dramatically affects your ability to swim.

“There may be hidden currents which can pull you under the water, and you don’t know what lies beneath, like pieces of rubbish or reeds which can trap or injure you.”

Yorkshire Water recreation and catchment manager Geoff Lomas said: “What starts as a day out in the sunshine can turn to tragedy within minutes if you decide to take a dip.

“It really doesn’t matter how well you can swim as it’s the cold which can kill you.

“Most people won’t realise that, as soon as your body feels the shock of cold water, its natural defences kick in.

“The first sign of trouble is hyperventilation but, if the swimmer stays in the water, the body will gradually shut down to protect the vital organs and muscles will go into cramp.

“The victim will be unable to remain afloat and will sink and, if help doesn’t arrive within seconds, they will drown.”

Severn Trent Water, which has reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley, has also issued safety advice.

Spokesman Andy Parsons said: “On a sunny day water looks enticing and it’s tempting to take a dip, but there are hidden dangers beneath.

“We want to make sure visitors stay safe while they’re having fun.

“Our beautiful reservoirs provide millions of litres of fresh drinking water every day.

“All that water means they’re really deep and cold, so people trying to cool off can quickly find themselves out of their depth and in trouble.

“Drawholes pull water from the reservoir, down pipes and to our water treatment works, and the water temperature rarely gets above 8C. There are also hidden currents.

“No matter how tempting it looks, or how safe it may appear, reservoirs are not places to swim or paddle.”