Anglian Water has teamed up with Suffolk Fire and Rescue to warn people of the dangers of jumping and swimming in reservoirs and open water. 

Students of University College Suffolk plus some of the Fire Service’s newest recruits will head to Alton Water reservoir today (Thursday, April 26) to experience a morning with the Water Rescue team.

The students will learn what happens to the body when someone enters open water unprepared and unsupervised. They will also see a demonstration of a range of rescue options such as throw lines and boat retrieval, but more importantly they will learn how to keep safe around water.

Together, Anglian Water and the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service are urging residents and visitors to the local area to ‘Be Water Aware’ and not be tempted to enter reservoirs or any other body of open water unsupervised.
A social media campaign is running with the hashtag #BeWaterAware and people are asked to share the posts to spread the message. It forms part of this year’s campaign from the Chief Fire Officers’ Association to raise awareness of the everyday dangers of being near water.

Jake Williams, Head of Recreation at Anglian Water said: “We’re really delighted to have joined forces with Suffolk Fire and Rescue to help people understand the dangers of unsupervised swimming.

“Reservoirs are there as storage so we can supply customers with drinking water. This means they are very deep and the water can be extremely cold in places – causing cold shock which takes your breath away and makes it hard to swim.

“As the levels drop in the summer months the water can be shallower than people realise, making it extremely dangerous to jump in. There are strong currents in the water and hidden machinery lies just below the surface, not to mention the mud and weeds which can trap even the strongest of swimmers.

“Alton Water is a fantastic place for people to enjoy, but unsupervised swimming is not safe. One family was devastated by the loss of a young man from Suffolk last year, and we want to do everything in our power to prevent it happening again. That’s why we’re working with Suffolk Fire and Rescue to help people understand the dangers and how to enjoy the water safely.”

Mark Hardingham Chief Fire Officer of Suffolk’s fire service said: “I want to reduce the number of water-related 999 emergencies that Suffolk’s firefighters attend. People are often shocked to hear that people who drown are not swimmers, instead they just happen to be near the water’s edge, for example runners, walkers and people fishing. They are usually unaware of the risks and totally unprepared for the scenario of ending up in the water. By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them, we hope to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in Suffolk.”

Visit Anglian Water’s Facebook or Twitter pages to learn more about the campaign.