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FIREFIGHTERS in Greater Manchester are warning people not to risk their lives by swimming in reservoirs and lakes.
The latest warning comes after two men drowned, in unrelated incidents, on Tuesday June 5, after swimming in reservoirs in Bolton and Gorton.
Fire crews were first called at 2.03pm to reports of a man getting into difficulty whilst swimming in High Rid reservoir, Bolton.
Firefighters from Bolton North and Horwich arrived at the scene in minutes and quickly set about searching the water’s edge for signs of the man. Specialist rescue units from Leigh and Eccles then arrived and used water rescue equipment and a boat to search the surface of the lake whilst an air ambulance provided aerial support.
Unfortunately, after two hours of searching, a man’s body was located by the water incident team which was recovered by police divers from Greater Manchester Police.
Just two hours later, at 4.10pm, two fire engines from Gorton, along with specialist appliances from Heywood and Ashton were called to reports of a man under the water in Gorton Reservoir.
Firefighters quickly arrived and again used specialist water safety equipment including a buoyancy aid and safety line to search the reservoir, but were unable to locate the man. Police underwater rescue units later found a man’s body.
Paul Etches, Head of Prevention at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), said: “These are two incredibly tragic incidents and our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have lost their lives.
“Sadly, these incidents could have been avoided and I would urge people to be very careful around water and not to swim in open water – doing so is risking your life and potentially the life of others.
“Water can be tempting, especially in the warm weather but there are so many risks. Reservoirs and lakes are incredibly dangerous and hide many tricky and unknown hazards like rocks, shopping trolleys and broken bottles.
“These are huge bodies of deep, open water and the temperature rarely rises above 12°C. This is cold enough to cause shock and increased breathing rate. Muscles will stiffen and fatigue will set in very quickly making it impossible to swim to safety – even for the strongest of swimmers.
“I would urge people never to swim in open water, as tempting as it may be, and if you ever see anyone in trouble in the water call 999 immediately and clearly explain where you are, providing nearby landmarks to the operator – but do not put yourself in danger by entering the water yourself. Never go into water after a pet, as they will most likely get themselves out.”
United Utilities, the region’s water company, works with the emergency services and schools to raise awareness of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs.
Sian Corr, Health and Safety manager, at United Utilities, said: “Every year we do our best to get the message across and stress the risk people are taking when they ignore the warning signs and choose to take a dip in a reservoir. We will continue to raise awareness but it is so sad that the tragedies keep on happening. Our thoughts are with the families affected today.”
For further water safety advice including a series of candid, hard-hitting videos about the risks and repercussions of reservoir swimming visit: unitedutilities.com/reservoirsafety or manchesterfire.gov.uk