Water Safety



Open water/reservoirs

We want to remind people not to be tempted by the nicer weather to go into open water for a swim – as the consequences can be fatal. People find themselves suffering from cold water shock, which can see even the strongest of swimmers find themselves in trouble.

To help reinforce our safety messages around open water we have been working closely with the loved ones of two teenage boys from Bolton - Jason Varghese (15) and his older cousin Joel Aniyankunj (19) - who drowned while on holiday in August 2018.

Following on from the tragic accident Jason’s and Joel’s loved ones are urging young people not to swim in open water – both at home and on holiday – while also reaching out to parents to raise awareness and save others the heartache they have experienced.

You can read more about this here and watch a video below which includes Suby (Jason's mum and Joel's auntie), Jason's headteacher, Tania Lewyckji, and two of his best friends - Robbie Woodcock and Sam Gibbons.

In April 2019, working with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and United Utilities, GMFRS was involved in the launch of a pilot initiative which sees throwline boards now being available at a number of Greater Manchester’s reservoirs which have sadly claimed the lives of young people over recent years. The boards allow people to help those who find themselves in trouble in the water.

See below video which was made to highlight the initiative.

Locations of the safety lines in Greater Manchester are: Dovestone Reservoir, Greenbooth Reservoir, High Rid Reservoir, Gorton Reservoir, Audenshaw Reservoir and Hollingworth Lake.

You can find out more about this initiative here 


We have also sadly seen a number of young people drown in canals – such as those in Manchester City Centre.

When on a night out in the city centre we ask people to plan their journey home at the start of the night and never walk along the canals alone.

See below poster for life-saving information from Royal Life Saving Society - click on image to visit their website.

In the near future, working with Manchester City Council and the Canal and River Trust, GMFRS will be working to get a number of reach poles installed along the Rochdale Canal, at various sites in Manchester City Centre – again, allowing people to safely help those who they find in difficulty in the water.

In the Manchester borough of Greater Manchester a Water Safety Partnership operates, made up of representatives from GMFRS, Manchester City Council, Canal and River Trust, plus more. You can see their website here.

Canals and locks are not safe places for young people to play. The water is very cold and it can prove impossible to climb out.

You can hear from Watch Manager Simon Dowling talking about water safety below.

Further water safety advice can be found here


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