Warnings over swimming in cold water during heatwave

First published in News

PEOPLE have been warned not to swim in reservoirs and rivers during the hot weather following a number of deaths in just over a week.

With the current heatwave forecast to stay for at least another week, Yorkshire Water has joined forces with emergency services to warn people about the dangers of swimming in reservoirs.

It comes after a number of incidents where people have drowned in the North-East after taking to the coast and riverbanks during the heatwave.

The latest victim, a man in his forties, got into difficulties after entering the quay near the mouth of the River Tyne at North Shields on Saturday afternoon (July 26).

The tragedy happened just two days after the death of a 22-year-old man, Andrew McWilliams, who apparently drowned at a beauty spot at Watergate Park, Gateshead. The previous day the body of David Zikhali was recovered from the River Tees in Stockton. The 20-year-old student, from Stockton, had got into difficulties in the water near the Millennium Bridge last Monday evening (July 21).

In previous years there have been two deaths at Cod Beck reservoir, near Osmotherley.

Inspector Dave Murray of Northallerton police, said: “Even during warm weather, water temperatures can be dangerously low. The water can also conceal rubbish, rocks, shallow areas, plants which can wrap around you, strong currents and diseases. If you want to go for swim, it’s best to use a swimming pool or lifeguard patrolled beach.

“If you get into difficulty in an isolated location it is unlikely that the emergency services will reach you in time. It’s not worth the risk.”

Geoff Lomas, recreation and catchment manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Reservoirs are extremely dangerous due to the chilling temperatures and the potential for strong under currents beneath the surface.”

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