Berkshire’s fire service warns people against swimming in open water during hot weather

Firefighters say swimming in open water areas, like rivers, lakes and canals, could lead to ‘deadly consequences’

“Don’t cool off in the open water!”

That’s the message from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) who are warning people about the dangers of trying to cool down during the hot weather.

With temperatures soaring into the mid 30s, people have been out in their droves enjoying the sunshine across Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell.

But firefighters say swimming in open water areas, like rivers, lakes and canals, could lead to ‘deadly consequences.’

Jess James, station commander at Caversham Road fire station – where RBFRS’ water rescue unit is based – said: “On a hot day it might be quite appealing to jump in for a swim to cool yourself down.

“However, don’t be tempted to cool off in rivers, lakes, canals and quarries; it can have deadly consequences.

“We have attended many incidents, which despite our best efforts have had devastating outcomes, many of which are made more tragic by the fact they could have been avoided.

“Our advice is very clear: be water wise, be water safe.”

In the UK, approximately 400 people accidentally drown every year.

Several men had a lucky escape in Reading town centre when they had to be rescued by a fire crew on Monday evening.

Water can be “icy cold”

RBFRS attends numerous water-related incidents and is aiming to reduce the number of people who tragically drown by raising awareness of the everyday dangers of being near water.

One of the main dangers is cold-water shock, as although water can sometimes feel warm on the surface, just a few feet below it may be icy cold.

This can have a dramatic effect on your body, such as causing you to breathe in water, make your muscles weaken, and can even cause your heart to go into abnormal rhythms, ultimately resulting in death.

Beneath the surface of the water there may also be unseen currents and reeds, which can pull even the most capable swimmers under.

RBFRS’ specialist water rescue unit will be on show at an open day at Dee Road fire station in Tilehurst on Friday, August 12.