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Dying for a swim: water company issues safety warning

no swimming[W]ith temperatures predicted to soar this bank holiday weekend and half term, United Utilities is urging people not to be tempted to cool off in a reservoir.

Sudden drops, hidden machinery, unpredictable currents and freezing, muscle-numbing water make reservoirs potentially fatal for those who ignore the warning signs.

United Utilities has more than 180 reservoirs around the North West, many surrounded by public access land.

Mark Byard, United Utilities’ health and safety director said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to our reservoir sites over the next few days. We just ask that people please stay out of the water. The last thing we want is for a fun day out to turn into a tragedy.

“While teenagers are statistically the most likely to put themselves in harm’s way, we’ve seen adults and even parents with young children taking the plunge, not realising just how much danger they are in.

“We’re not trying to be killjoys or to prevent people from enjoying the sunny weather. The risks of reservoir swimming are very real – and we want people to stay safe.”

Educational materials, including a series of candid, hard-hitting videos about the risks and repercussions of reservoir swimming, are available at the company’s website:


  • 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.
  • Reservoirs are often in isolated places. If you get into trouble, there may be no one around to help.

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