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7th Jul, 2022

Police warn of the dangers of open water

Malvern Editorial 25th Jul, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

PARENTS have been reminded about the dangers of open water with police keen to avoid the tragic scenes from last year when two people died at Gullet Quarry.

Following the high profile deaths last summer at the Ledbury beauty spot, officers have made clear the life-threatening risks to those walking or running alongside rivers as well as swimmers.

It follows a similar appeal from the Malvern Hills Conservators in the Observer last week which revealed visits to the site are down this year.

Every summer police receive calls about people jumping off bridges into rivers to cool off and then getting into difficulty while swimming in reservoirs, pools, lakes, quarries and canals.

As well as the Gullet Quarry deaths last July, another tragedy was reported at the River Severn in Bridgnorth and in March a 15-year-old boy lost his life after getting into difficulties while swimming with friends in the River Arrow in Redditch.

Supt Mark Travis appealed for parents to ensure their children were educated about the dangers and to be aware of where their youngsters were playing when out of sight.

“It might be very inviting in warm weather but swimming in unauthorised and unsupervised stretches of river or other open water is fraught with danger,” he said.

“The deaths we have experienced locally over the past year are a stark illustration of just how hazardous it can be.

“While those dangers are ever-present we are keen to highlight it now that the schools are breaking up for summer and children will have more time on their hands.

“A hot spell usually results in some youngsters making a beeline for stretches of open water and they need to be aware of the risks.

“It is often impossible to gauge the depths of these waters and the strength of currents. Where water levels are unknown, jumping or diving in can cause serious injury or drowning, especially if there are submerged rocks, weeds or other debris.

“There is also a misconception that drowning tragedies usually involve people who are poor swimmers. In fact the shock of sudden cold water immersion or inhalation can cause instant death due to a condition known as vagal inhibition or ‘reflex cardiac arrest’.”

Visit www.westmercia.police.uk for further information on the dangers of swimming in open water.

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