YORKSHIRE Water and firefighters are issuing a warning to those considering a dip in reservoirs and waterways ahead of what is set to be a sweltering weekend.

Temperatures are set to hit 30 degrees across the country so many may see the county’s reservoirs as the idea spot to cool down.

However, temperatures in the water are far colder and taking a dip could lead to tragic consequences.

Reservoirs have temperatures as low as 12ºC, which is colder than rivers in summer time and they are much deeper with depths of depths of up to 50m. Although they have less currents than rivers, there are underwater currents generated by pipework, which is a more invisible danger.

Alastair Harvey, Yorkshire Water’s Recreation Advisor, said: “Reservoirs are deep and the water in them doesn’t flow or heat up in the same way as rivers or the sea with the temperature rarely rising above 12C.

"People sometimes do not understand how dangerous they can be. Just a short swim can result in a tragic loss of life and we want to once again ask people to stay out of our reservoirs.”

Signs are around all of Yorkshire Water’s 120 reservoirs warning people about the dangers of swimming but sadly alcohol and bravado can sometimes cloud people’s judgement. Yorkshire Water wants visitors to enjoy the land and waters it owns but the company also wants them to go home safely.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are also urging the public to remember to ask for the fire service alongside paramedics if they see someone in trouble in water. Crews are reporting that precious minutes are being lost when well-meaning people unwittingly ask for other emergency services when calling 999.

As part of the recent National Drowning Prevention Week, led by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) reminded the public that despite the many great qualities of the police and ambulance service it is the fire service which is best placed to deal with rescues from water.

The fire service has crews with specialist dedicated training in swift water rescue and are skilled in the latest techniques. It also has specialist water rescue fire stations.

Watch Manager Phil Rhodes said: “We’ve seen quite a few incidents where the public have spotted someone in trouble in water – but asked for the police rather than the fire service to come and rescue them.

“As we all know, in any emergency every second counts and could mean the difference between life and death, so it’s essential we get to the scene as quickly as possible.”

“We just want to take the opportunity to remind people to think of us immediately if they see someone in trouble in the water – we really are best placed to deal with water rescues, however, people often only associate the fire service with fires which is an easy mistake to make!”

This message is something echoed by our partner emergency services, who we work closely with on many water related incidents.

Superintendent Mark McManus, from West Yorkshire Police, said: “We welcome the fire service’s advice and if you do see someone in trouble in water, call the fire service. A call to the right emergency services could be the difference between life and death.”

With warmer weather here, crews are also issuing the following advice if you spot anyone struggling in the water.

  • Can the person help themselves? Shout to them ‘Swim to me’. The water can be disorientating. This can give them a focus.
  • Look around for any lifesaving equipment. Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them.
  • If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use. There may be something that can help them stay afloat – even an item such as a ball can help.
  • You could attempt to reach out to them. Clothes such as scarves can be used to try and reach or a long stick. If you do this lie on the ground so your entire body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water– you may get pulled in.
  • Be mindful that if the water is cold the person may struggle to grasp an object or hold on when being pulled in.