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Residents urged to resist the siren call of Cheshire’s reservoirs this summer

Swimmers across Cheshire are urged to resist the siren call of reservoirs this summer – or risk the sound of emergency sirens too.

While they look enticing during the warmer months, reservoirs are extremely dangerous, with swimmers risking their lives every time they enter the water. In fact, around 400 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year.

United Utilities, which is responsible for 150 reservoirs across the North West, including Trentabank, Ridgegate, Teggsnose and Bottoms reservoirs in Macclesfield, is urging residents to resist the temptation for a dip this summer and enjoy the reservoirs from the safety of dry land.

Alaister Downie, Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at United Utilities, said: “Not only is swimming in reservoirs strictly prohibited, but it’s also extremely dangerous. We continue to hear of the needless deaths of people accidently drowning in open water.

“The water may look refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but it is deceptively cold. Even in the summer the water will rarely get above 11°C – colder than the water that comes out of your cold tap. Even strong swimmers will struggle to keep their heads above water, your body can go into shock, your heart will be working over-time to pump blood to your internal organs, and you’ll lose control of your muscles.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Services Group Manager for Prevention is Steve McCormick. He said: “I would urge people to listen to the advice that United Utilities are giving to help keep people safe near water.

“Our firefighters respond to many water-related incidents each year, particularly when people are tempted to take a dip to cool off in warmer weather. We have tragically seen the risks that open water can pose and have been to incidents in Cheshire where people have lost their lives in these circumstances. Please think twice before entering any open water. If people do want to swim outdoors, I would strongly encourage them to join a recognised and supervised swimming club, where there are safety measures in place.”

Machinery installed by United Utilities at the bottom of the reservoir to pump water adds other danger to swimmers by creating a strong current, while the steep sides and sudden drops can be hazardous for anyone trying to get out.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society UK, accidental drowning kills around 400 people in the UK and Ireland each year, with about 44% happening between May and August.

Alaister Downie added: “This is a hugely important message that needs to be spread far and wide.

“Cheshire is lucky to have so many beauty spots, but the dangers of swimming in cold water are significant and there should be no excuses.

“Go and walk your dog, enjoy a picnic or a ramble – just don’t go in the water!

“The North West has lost two teenagers to drowning in reservoirs in the North West in recent times – that is not a number we want to see go up.”

As we prepare to enjoy our first restriction-free summer since the start of pandemic, United Utilities has launched a reservoir safety educational pack for teachers and parents, designed to help them learn about the dangerous of reservoir swimming in an interactive and engaging way.

To download the pack and find out more go to:

https://www.unitedutilities.com/about-us/acres-of-nature/reservoir-safety/

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