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Stay safe near open water as lockdown rules are relaxed and weather gets warmer

Firefighters conducting a water rescue exercise

People are being urged to stay safe around open water as families and young people start to head outside more.

This week has seen a number of lockdown rules relaxed, and with hot weather predicted for this week and an upcoming Bank Holiday weekend looming, the temptation to head out to the water could be strong – especially for young people who may be enjoying half term.

Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service is calling on people to avoid going into open water despite the warm weather and longer daylight hours. Cold water can still cause shock to the body during warm weather and can have serious implications on your breathing and movement when swimming.

People heading out for long walks to keep healthy and enjoy the spring should also be on their guard when near the open water. Typically, just under half of those who are involved in water rescues had no intention of going into the water, but had accidentally fallen in.

Darren Carson, prevention team leader at the fire service, said: “We would urge people not to go swimming in open water, it can be very dangerous, and people often underestimate how cold the water can be. Nobody should go in the water if they have had alcohol – last year we sadly had a fatality when someone drowned after drinking, and it is something we do not want to see repeated this year.

“When you are out walking and are near open water, make sure you stay away from the edges of the banks. We would recommend sticking to designated paths and to be wary of uneven, unstable or slippery ground. Avoid walking alone or at night, and always make sure you have a way to call for help.”

Stay safe near open water as lockdown rules are relaxed and weather gets warmerShould you see either another person or an animal struggling in the water, you should not enter the water and try to rescue them yourself. The safest way to rescue people from the water is to use throw lines or throw some sort of flotation device.

Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service is in the process of working with various partners, including the Canal & River Trust, to install throw lines at several locations in the county.

Adrian Lole, area operations manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Our waterways are beautiful at this time of year and will provide an important escape for people as the weather improves and restrictions are eased.

“We’ve been really pleased to work with Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service. The new throw lines will be a valuable addition at some of our most popular sites but, more importantly, we’d ask people to please stay alert and take care by the water so that everyone can go home safe and dry at the end of the day.”

It is also recommended that people download the what3words app on their mobile phones, as the app makes it easy to share a specific location with emergency services by giving every three metre square of the world a unique combination of three words.

Darren Carson added: “People can often drown themselves trying to rescue someone. If you see someone else in trouble, you should call 999.”

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