Tuesday 5 March 2024
6.8 C

Life-saving West Bridgford police officer backs water safety campaign

Playing in open water can be fatal, young people are being warned as the summer holidays approach.

Families are also being urged help to drive home the risk of drowning if children enter the water, as emergency services, local councils and water charities team up to prevent tragedies in rivers, lakes, canals and ponds across Nottinghamshire.

A hero Nottinghamshire Police officer who saved a 12-year-old girl’s life after she entered the River Trent earlier this month has also backed the campaign.

Police Constable Nicholas Lewis used all his experience swimming for the Nottinghamshire County Swim Squad to save the girl from drowning her close to the County Hall, near to the Victoria Embankment, on the night of 6 June, as previously reported.

Open Water Safety week pic one

The West Bridgford officer said: “I’m just grateful we were able to save her. Thankfully she wasn’t injured and was reunited with her mum in hospital that same night.

“While there were specific circumstances of how she entered the water, incidents like this only help highlight the important message of staying out of open water. I’m proud that the force is supporting this action and hope it will help encourage people to think about their safety around water.”

Open Water Safety week pic two

The plea comes after neighbourhood policing teams covering the Gedling, Rushcliffe and city south areas have been supporting a water safety week of action led by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service over the last week and will continue to push the message throughout the summer holidays.

Partner organisations engaged with families to raise awareness of water safety, with educational sessions around Holme Pierrepoint National Watersports Centre and Colwick Country Park.

Among the other organisations working together to help keep people safe around water this summer include those within Nottinghamshire’s Water Safety Partnership, the Canal & River Trust, Nottingham city, Gedling borough and Rushcliffe borough councils, the Open Water Education Network (OWEN), Holme Pierrepoint and Colwick Park.

Around 44 per cent of accidental drownings happen between May and August and more than 46 per cent of people who get in trouble in water, never even intended to be in the water.

Bryn Coleman, area manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Although being in and around water can be fun, it can also be extremely dangerous.

“Even when the weather is warm, it doesn’t always mean the water is. Immediately after jumping or falling into water your movements are likely to be impaired due to the cold, and it is likely you will be gasping due to the shock of the temperature.

“This summer we urge you to be safe around water, as fun can very quickly turn into tragedy.

“We ask that if you see someone in water, that you don’t go in after them. Call the emergency services and encourage the casualty to float.

“Having What3Words downloaded is also beneficial, as it will give the control room the exact location of an incident, which helps especially with incidents involving water.”

Inspector Chris Pearson, of Nottinghamshire Police, added: “It is really important that people stay away from open water as we don’t want families to suffer the devastation of losing a loved one.

“We are urging people to stay safe over the summer by making themselves and their children aware of the dangers. When the weather is warm, it’s tempting to jump in to cool off, but this can endanger your life and the lives of others if they then enter the water to help you.

“Water can be deep, unpredictable and contain hidden dangers. There are still lots of things to do safely near open water sites. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun or discourage people from enjoying the activities some sites provide – but please be safe and stay out of the water unless you know the site is properly supervised and there is adequate rescue cover.”

City councillor Rosemary Healy, portfolio holder for highways, transport and cleansing services, said: “While swimming in open water can seem tempting during hot weather, there are many hidden dangers. “The water may look calm on the surface, but there may still be strong undercurrents that could pull even the strongest swimmers under.

“The water may also feel relatively warm on the surface, but just a few feet below it will be icy cold even in hot weather and can very quickly cause severe cramp and hypothermia. For those wanting to swim we run great supervised sessions at Colwick Country Park.”

To read more about water safety on Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website visit Your Safety (notts-fire.gov.uk)

For more information about the Open Water Education Network (OWEN) visit their website here: https://owen7.org.uk/