VIDEO: The tragic tale of Doncaster teen Taylor Matthews who drowned jumping into Skelbrooke Quarry
Yorkshire Water and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (SYFRS) have backed the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Be Water Aware campaign after more than 120 reported incidents of swimming in Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs since July 2020.
According to the NFCC, 223 people accidentally drowned in the UK in 2019, with 44 per cent of those deaths occurring in inland water.
In 2020, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue attended 144 water related incidents, with a third of those linked to alcohol.
Gaynor Craigie, head of land and property at Yorkshire Water, said: “During lockdown we have seen a worrying increase in the number of reported incidents of people getting into our reservoirs to swim recreationally or simply to have a dip and cool off.
“We know the importance of exercise and visiting the countryside as a boost to mental health, particularly over recent months, but safety must remain paramount. Entering a reservoir is dangerous. Low water temperatures can cause cold water shock that may lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and ultimately death. Underwater machinery and the currents associated with their operation are also a potential hazard for people choosing to enter the water.
“We are backing the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Be Water Aware campaign once again and would encourage those visiting our reservoirs to do so safely, which means not entering the water and putting themselves at risk.”
The campaign also focuses on the tragic death of 19-year-old Taylor Matthews who lost his life after jumping into Skelsbrooke Quarry in 2018. Watch the heartbreaking video HERE.
SYFRS’s Craig Huxley said: “As the warmer weather approaches and the lockdown eases, we understand there will be the temptation to enter open water. We would always advise against entering open water as it is too unpredictable. The temperature rarely gets above four degrees, there are dangerous under currents, and although reservoirs are clean you can’t always see what’s beneath, which can lead to injury when entering or can even trap you making it very difficult to get out.
“It’s particularly important people understand the dangers for children entering open water. Approximately 45 per cent of children aged 7-11 are unable to swim 25 meters unaided and we lose more children to water each year than we do to fires, road traffic accidents and cycling combined.”