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West Mercia Police, the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, RLSS UK and Hereford and Worcester Fire & Rescue Service are asking for people to think carefully before they attempt to swim in lakes, quarries or any type of open water, following the unfortunate recent fatality of an18-year-old young man at the quarry in Shavers End, Stourport; just one of a spate of incidents nationally in which people have got into difficulty in open water.

West Mercia has a wide variety of lakes, quarries and waterways, all of which carry hidden dangers and with the summer holidays approaching, this danger is only going to increase, with more and more people thinking that it’s safe to swim in open water.

In a bid to save lives, Fire and Police officers will be out and about in the next few weeks at local quarries and lakes where young people hang out to talk to them about the dangers they could face when swimming in open water.

The agencies are also uniting, along with West Mercia Search and Rescue, the RNLI, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Canal and River Trust and the Samaritans to drive the Home and Dry campaign, to raise awareness and prevent unnecessary deaths.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said “My thoughts are with the family, following another tragic loss of life. It’s important we do all we can to prevent these tragedies and it’s important to follow the advice to keep yourself safe. I am committed to taking a strong united approach to tackling this issue, and have brought together a number of key professionals through the Home and Dry campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and continue to protect and keep the public safe.”

Detective Inspector Jim Hopkins from West Mercia Police, said: “The tragic accident of the young 18-year-old man drowning in Shavers End Quarry in Stourport is an all too devastating example of the dangers of open water.

Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family and friends who are dealing with this tragic loss. We will continue to support the family and we are dedicated to doing everything we can to protect our communities from harm and this includes letting people know about the risks involved with swimming in open water.

“As summer temperatures are set to soar, taking a cooling dip in water is an obvious temptation. Bodies of water may look appealing, or even safe in some cases, however strong currents, hazardous objects, and pollution mean they often hide much less obvious dangers.

“Even if you are a strong swimmer you are still susceptible to dangers such as cold water shock, which affects your ability to swim and can have severe effects on your body in as little as three minutes. The longer you are in the water, the greater your chance of hypothermia as your core body temperature drops to a dangerous level.

“The best way to stay safe is to avoid swimming in open water and ensure you only enter water where there is adequate supervision and rescue cover.

“We will continue to work with the Fire Service, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and RLSS UK to educate people about the risks of cold water shock and how swimming in open water can put them and others in serious danger. While we do not want to stop anyone from enjoying the warm weather, we would urge them to listen to our advice and do so in a safe and responsible way.”

Group Commander Mick Cadman from the Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service Community Risk department said: “It is so important to remind people to stay safe near water, especially at this high-risk time of year.

“We have some beautiful rivers, canals and lakes in our two counties, but the risk of cold water shock is too great at this time of the year to consider swimming.

“Be water aware – enjoy being around the rivers, canals, and lakes, but don’t end up in them on a day or a night out.”

Lee Heard, Director of Partnerships for RLSS UK commented: “Any loss of life in a drowning incident is tragic and our thoughts are with the family at this time. As the drowning prevention charity we work to educate and inform people on the potential risks of water.  We want as many people to participate in water based activity but as safely as possible and we would urge people to take part in supervised activities. For information on how to stay safe please visit their website.”

For further tips and advice, please visit their website, if you see someone in danger in open water call 999 immediately.

Issued: Tuesday 9th July 2019