VIDEO: Twenty Yorkshire water rescues end in tragedy in just five years

Firefighters in Yorkshire have gone out to nearly 350 water rescues in the last five years - with 20 ending in tragedy, according to new figures.

Monday, 20th July 2015, 5:00 pm
Police search in Snailsden Reservoir for a missing man last year. Pic: Ross Parry

The statistics were revealed by Yorkshire Water today as the utility firm released a new three-minute video highlighting the life-threatening risks of swimming in reservoirs in the region.

Produced by Yorkshire Water and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, the Cold Water Kills film is aimed at young people who are most likely to be tempted to swim in reservoirs during the school summer holidays.

It was filmed at Ogden reservoir in Halifax and features a recreation of a reservoir emergency rescue that ends in tragedy.

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Firefighters have warned that with water temperatures as low as 12C, depths of up to 50m and undercurrents lurking beneath the surface, even a short swim in a reservoir could end in tragedy.

There are a number of signs around reservoirs in the region but it is feared hot weather, alcohol and bravado can sometimes cloud people’s judgement.

In the last five years alone, Yorkshire and the Humber’s four fire and rescue services have been called out to 346 water rescue incidents, with 20 resulting in deaths.

The most recent reservoir fatality was at Snailsden reservoir in South Yorkshire last summer where a police dive team found the body of a 38 year-old man on the surface bed.

Alastair Harvey, Recreation Advisor at Yorkshire Water, said: “Reservoirs may look tempting to take a swim in but they can be killers and our dramatic film will hopefully raise awareness of these risks amongst young people.

“Cold water shock can lead to hyperventilation, increased blood pressure, breathing difficulties and heart attacks plus water temperatures remain just as cold in summer as in winter.”

“We have 115 scenic and beautiful reservoirs that we want walkers, cyclists, runners, picnic-goers and others to enjoy this summer. We just don’t want anyone to swim in them and to obey our warning signs.”

Station Manager Ian Thompson, a Technical Rescue Officer for West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Too often in the past people have been drawn to the cooling waters on a hot day, only to find that they are simply not capable of functioning in the low temperatures encountered in the deeper water.

“As the school summer holidays start it is vital that youngsters take our safety messages on board when they are out and about.”

Across the UK, there was a total of 381 drownings and water-related deaths in 2013 with over half occuring in inland waters, such as reservoirs, lakes and rivers.

It emerged today that a 25-year-old man has died after jumping in a reservoir in the West Midlands, reportedly to collect a ball.

The man is understood to have got into difficulty after diving in to the Fens Pool.

People battled to save his life at the scene and he was taken to hospital, where he later died, West Midlands Police said.

In a series of tweets, the force said: “Understood man dived in Middle Pool and failed to resurface. Resuscitation attempts at scene and taken to hospital.

“Sadly we’ve just heard that the man pulled from Fens Pool (Middle Pool) has died in hospital. Condolences to family & friends.”

Police are urging anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact them on 101.

Fens Pools are a biological site of Special Scientific Interest, and comprise of large reservoirs which are an important habitat for migrating birds.