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Water advice follows canal rescue

THE dangers of cooling off in Greater Manchester's canals, rivers and reservoirs are being highlighted after firefighters rescued a man who got into trouble swimming in the ship canal.

Firefighters from Stretford Fire Station were called to the canal on Barton Road, Davyhulme, at 11.10am on Wednesday, May 30.

Both crews went to the scene and found a 22-year-old man, who had been swimming in the canal, struggling in the water.

They rescued him using throw lines and a short ladder and he was taken to hospital by ambulance.

The water incident unit from Eccles Fire Station was also sent to the scene to support the rescue efforts.

Councillor David Acton, Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: "Thankfully, our crews were at the scene quickly and their professionalism and training meant they were able to rescue this man. We hope he makes a speedy recovery from his ordeal.

"Greater Manchester has some fantastic scenery to enjoy in the good weather but our rivers, canals, reservoirs and other bodies of open water should be admired without giving in to the temptation to take a dip.

"There are many dangers involved in getting into water that isn't intended for swimmers - the water is often much colder and a different depth than expected, anything can lie beneath the surface and even strong swimmers can be taken by surprise by the currents."

Reservoir safety in particular is a key focus for United Utilities, who this summer will be working collaboratively with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to raise awareness of how dangerous deciding to take a dip can be.

Mark Byard, United Utilities' head of health and safety, said: "An unfortunate side effect of hot weather is that people are tempted to cool off by taking a swim in places they shouldn't which can very dangerous.

"It's a problem we are keen to tackle. We've already got a medical fact file on our website www.unitedutilities.com/reservoir-safety as well as a preview of our summer safety campaign which we'll be using to support the emergency services."

DANGERS OF SWIMMING IN CANALS, LAKES, RIVERS AND RESERVOIRS:

• There is no supervision.
• The water is a lot colder than expected and can impact on physical capabilities.
• It's difficult to estimate the depth of the water. It may be much deeper or much shallower than expected.
• There are often no suitable places to get out of the water due to steep slimy banks or sides.
• There is no way of knowing what lies beneath - there could be shopping trolleys, opened tin cans or broken bottles.
• Open water can lead to a variety of illnesses and parasites.
• There may be hidden currents. Flowing water can be especially dangerous.
• Alcohol and swimming don't mix - perception and capability are both effected by drinking

For more water safety advice please go to our website /fire_safety_advice/seasonal_safety/water_safety.aspx.

RESERVOIRS: THE CHILLING FACTS

• Reservoir temperatures rarely get above 10 degrees, even in summer. They are cold enough to take your breath away, make your arms and legs numb, and induce hypothermia.
• Reservoirs are often extremely deep, with sudden drops you cannot see.
• There may be hidden currents from water pipes below the surface.
• Hidden obstacles, such as machinery for water treatment, broken glass or other rubbish, is commonplace.
• It's hard to get out. The sides of reservoirs are often very steep.
• Invisible algae can often build up at the water edge, producing toxins that cause skin rashes and stomach upsets.
• Reservoirs are often in isolated places. If you get into trouble, there may be no one around to help.

Last update: 31/05/2012 15:21:03
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