Cleveland Fire Brigade concern over water rescues

Cleveland Fire Brigade is warning people not to use rivers to cool off or swim in during the warm weather, particularly when they have been drinking.

The call comes after concerns over recent call outs to rescue people from the River Tees over the last few weeks.

In one incident two fire appliances and the water rescue boat were called to reports of a man in the Tees at 11pm.  The man who was under the influence of alcohol, had been swimming.

Drowning in the UK is among the leading causes of accidental deaths. In 2015, 321 people accidently drowned. This included 71 people aged 15- 29, with 35% (25) of these drowning victims having alcohol in their system.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Cooling off in rivers, canals, ponds, quarries and lakes can have deadly consequences. The water may look calm on the surface, but there may be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under.

“The water may also feel relatively warm on the surface, but just a few feet below can be icy cold even in the hot weather and can very quickly cause severe cramp and hypothermia. Due to these dangers, we urge you not to swim anywhere other than in purpose-built and supervised swimming pools.

We would advise the following tips for staying safe near water:

  • Alcohol and swimming don’t mix – stay out of the water if you have been drinking
  • Always watch your child while at the beach, lake or other bodies of water
  • Learn to spot and keep away from dangerous water
  • Take safety advice – heed notices which warn you of the danger
  • Children should always visit open water sites with an adult
  • Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club
  • Never swim near motor boats, jet skis or other power vehicles
  • Never swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds
  • Never tamper with lifesaving equipment – you might need it yourself