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Merseyside Police warn of dangers of open water swimming

3 weeks ago

Merseyside Police warn of dangers of open water swimming
Open water swimming warning. Merseyside Police

As the sunny weather approaches this weekend, the police are issuing a reminder to the public regarding the hazards of open water swimming.

The caution from Merseyside Police extends to the St Helens area, where bodies of water such as lakes, reservoirs, ponds, canals, and rivers pose potential risks.

With the rising temperatures, the force anticipates a surge in reports of individuals swimming in open water. However, many may not fully grasp the consequences, which can range from injuries to tragic accidental fatalities.

Inspector Stacey Pope of the Neighbourhood Policing Team at St Helens said:

“We know how tempting it can be, particularly on a hot or humid day, to jump into or swim in open water, but we want to remind people of the potential dangers and urge them to stay safe.

“Open water swimming is vastly different to swimming in a pool and is much more dangerous. Even in warm weather, the water is often a lot colder than you expect and sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock. Even the strongest of swimmers can get into difficulty quickly.

“Please be vigilant, even when near stretches of open water. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the UK and we know that many of these cases involve normal everyday activities where there was no intention of entering the water.

“The depth of open water can be difficult to judge, and steep sides and banks can make it hard to get out. There are also hidden dangers beneath the surface of the water, including debris that can not only cause injury but also potentially trap you under water. Open water is also often untreated, and many contain contaminants that can make you extremely ill.

“Officers will be patrolling areas around bodies of open water, including popular spots that can attract groups of youths who actively engage in anti-social behaviour. We will share water safety advice with members of the public and take positive action regarding any anti-social behaviour, so residents and visitors alike can enjoy the area and stay safe.

“We urge the public to familiarise themselves with the water safety advice from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and the RNLI, which we are sharing today. Pay attention to signs at local beauty spots, know the location of lifesaving apparatus such as throw lines and what to do if you see someone who is in trouble in the water.”

Open Water Swimming - The Guide Liverpool
Open Water Swimming – The Guide Liverpool


  • The water is cold – even on very warm days. Sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock, which can cause gasping and intake of water
  • Riverbanks and cliff edges may be unstable and give way, particularly after bad weather
  • Depth can be difficult to estimate and debris under the water such as shopping trolleys, broken glass and cans can cause injury and trap you
  • You can get in, but can you get out? People often get into difficulty with steep sides and slimy banks
  • There may be hidden currents
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when carrying out activities in or near water
  • Going to the beach? We advise you to go to a beach with a lifeguard. Be aware of which flag is flying as this will warn you of any dangers. Red and yellow flags mean lifeguards are on patrol
  • If you are spending time near water – whether at home or abroad – make sure you are familiar with local safety information


Remember: Call, Tell, Throw

  • CALL – dial 999 and ask for the Fire & Rescue Service if inland or Coastguard if near the coast
  • TELL – Tell them to float on their back
  • THROW – Look for something that floats or that they could hold onto and throw it to them.

Do not enter the water yourself – you could also get into difficulty


If you fall into the water unexpectedly, or get into difficulty, remember: Float to Live

  • Fight your instinct to thrash around – lean back and extend your arms and legs
  • Float until you can control your breathing
  • Only then, call for help, swim to safety or continue floating until help arrives

For more info on Merseyside Police click here.

For the latest news in Liverpool click here.



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