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Enjoy the water - but stay safe

With the summer school holidays in full swing, please take extra care on all bodies of water around the Wirral coastline and further afield.

During the summer months, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) says that activities as kite surfing, sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and open water swimming can be fun and fantastic exercise.

But entering water unsupervised, alone, not using correct equipment and kit or entering water not designed for public use can have catastrophic consequences.

Station Manager Lauren McCormack, Water Safety lead at MFRS said: “We really want people to enjoy themselves but people should never underestimate the power of water; the river and the sea we live alongside have strong currents and it is easy to be swept away. Temperatures can be cold enough to numb limbs or induce cold water shock, even after spells of warm weather.

“Alcohol also poses a danger. Stay out of the water if you have been drinking alcohol and never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds.”

MFRS asks everyone to respect lifesaving equipment, such as life rings, and to avoid interfering with them in case you or others get in to distress and need to use them.

Swimming anywhere other than at a purpose-built and supervised swimming pool or water sports centre is highly dangerous and not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.

There may be hazards under open water such as rocks, debris, broken bottles or even shopping trolleys, which can cause serious injury or may trap you.

Station Manager McCormack said: “Even competent swimmers may struggle in open water so stick to swimming pools or beaches with a lifeguard and never go swimming, fishing or sailing alone.

“Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the UK so, as much as we want everyone to enjoy themselves, we ask everyone to take extra care if you go out on the water this summer.”

You can get free advice by calling 0800 731 5958.

If someone you are with falls in to the water, follow the steps below:

  • Call for help right away. Call 999 and if you are near the coast ask for the Coastguard.
  • Give accurate information about where you are. Use the location services or map tools on your phone to give a clear description to emergency services and look around for any landmarks or signs.
  • Stay on the line and call for help from anyone who might be close by.
  • Never enter the water to try and save someone; you are likely to suffer from cold water shock.
  • Shout to the person ‘swim to me’ to give them a focus and keep any instructions clear, short and loud.
  • Look around for any lifesaving equipment and use it. If there is no lifesaving equipment look for what else you can use to help them stay afloat.

For more information about Water Safety visit www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/water-safety/