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Catchment Management

‘Cold Water Kills’ film reveals deadly dangers of swimming in reservoirs

A film that exposes the life threatening risks of swimming in reservoirs has been made to help bring an ends to tragic accidents at Yorkshire’s reservoirs that have occurred in recent years. 

With water temperatures as low as 12ºC, depths of up to 50m and undercurrents lurking beneath the surface, the Cold Water Kills film highlights that even a short swim could end in tragic consequences.

Produced by Yorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, the film is aimed at young people who are most likely to be tempted to swim in reservoirs during the school summer holidays. It was filmed at Ogden reservoir in Halifax and features a hard hitting recreation of a reservoir emergency rescue that ends in tragedy.

In the last five years alone, Yorkshire and Humberside’s four Fire & Rescue Services (WYFRS) have been called out to around 346 water rescue incidents - 20 of which resulted in deaths.  The most recent reservoir fatality was at Snailsden reservoir in South Yorkshire last summer where a police dive team found the body of a 38 year-old man on the surface bed.

Alastair Harvey, Recreation Advisor at Yorkshire Water, said: “Reservoirs may look tempting to take a swim in but they can be killers and our dramatic film will hopefully raise awareness of these risks amongst young people. Cold water shock can lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and heart attacks plus water temperatures remain just as cold in summer as in winter.

“We have 115 scenic and beautiful reservoirs that we want walkers, cyclists, runners, picnic-goers and others to enjoy this summer.  We just don’t want anyone to swim in them and to obey our warning signs.”

Station Manager Ian Thompson, a Technical Rescue Officer for West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Too often in the past people have been drawn to the cooling waters on a hot day, only to find that they are simply not capable of functioning in the low temperatures encountered in the deeper water.

“As the school summer holidays start it is vital that youngsters take our safety messages on board when they are out and about.”

Across the UK, there was a total of 381 drownings and water-related deaths in 2013 with over half occuring in inland waters, such as reservoirs, lakes and rivers.

‘Cold Water Kills’ signs are placed around all of Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs warning people about the dangers of swimming in cold water, but hot weather, alcohol and bravado can sometimes cloud people’s judgement.

Helping educate pupils on water.

Making sure we that we provide schools with interactive and fun ways to bring the classroom to life.

Part of our blueprint for Yorkshire
Reservoir safety | cold water kills

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