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Shocking pictures of North West sun-lovers prompt safety warning from water and emergency chiefs

Worried water bosses have issued a stark danger warning to visitors at some of the region’s favourite beauty spots this weekend, as shocking pictures show the extent of people ignoring life-preserving social distancing and ‘no swimming’ advice.

Catchment managers at United Utilities, which owns reservoirs in many of the region’s favourite visitor haunts, fear it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, or worse, by plunging into icy water during the current dry spell as lockdown measures start to ease.

Earlier this month, United Utilities and the Fire and Rescue Services from both Greater Manchester and Lancashire reminded people not to go swimming in reservoirs, which is strictly not allowed due to the hidden dangers and risk of drowning.

But despite this warning, and Government advice on maintaining a safe social distance from others, just today, United Utilities rangers have recorded dozens of cases of people jumping into reservoirs and refusing to respond to requests to adhere to well-signposted guidance when asked.

Paula Steer from United Utilities said: “The government’s ease of lockdown restrictions is welcome news for many, especially with the current glorious weather. But now is not the time to let our guards down. Increasing numbers of people, many of them children and young people, but by no means all of them, are choosing to ignore the dangers, as our pictures show.

“Our people can’t be everywhere all of the time and we also have to consider the risk to our own staff in approaching people to warn them. I would urge all parents to stress and stress again to young people, that no matter how inviting the water looks, it is deadly. The effect of cold on the human body can be sudden and fatal and by the time you realise, it’s too late.”

These pictures were taken today at Worthington Lakes, near Wigan, and at Alance Bridge, at Yarrow reservoir, near Rivington, Lancashire, but catchment staff across the North West are reporting a similar situation at many sites, she added.

Area Manager Paul Fearnhead from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “As always we advise people not to enter or swim in open water – if there is no lifeguard then it is not safe to swim. Too many people have lost their lives after getting into difficulties in water – even the strongest of swimmers suffer from Cold Water Shock and can find themselves caught up in objects hidden beneath the water’s surface. Please wait for leisure centres to re-open before you think about swimming.”

Group Manager, Mark Hutton, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service added: “People may be surprised to hear that firefighters deal with water rescues but we have six stations around the county that specialise in swift water rescue and two with specialist boat crews.

“Due to the nature of drowning incidents prevention is always far better than cure as no matter how fast the emergency response is sometimes we just cannot get to the location of people in difficulty fast enough.”

More information on reservoir safety can be found at https://www.unitedutilities.com/about-us/recreation-sites/reservoir-safety/

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