As temperatures rise, it’s tempting to cool off with a swim in a river, canal, lake or reservoir. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is regularly called to rescue people who have got into trouble in the water.

What are the dangers?

  • There is no supervision.
  • The cold water temperature can claim your life in minutes – even if you are a strong swimmer.
  • 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 weeds, pipes, shopping trolleys, sharp metal or broken bottles.
  • Swimming in open water can lead to a variety of serious illnesses.
  • There may be hidden currents. Flowing water or swimming in the sea can be especially dangerous.
  • Alcohol and swimming don’t mix – perception and capability are both affected by drinking.

What should I do if I see someone in difficulty?

  • Alert someone, preferably a lifeguard. Or, dial 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service. Explain your location clearly and describe any landmarks.
  • Swim somewhere safe – the swimming baths.
  • Obey the warning signs around reservoirs, lakes, canals, rivers and at the beach.
  • Value your own safety first – jumping into the water to rescue pets or belongings can be highly dangerous.
  • Know what to do in an emergency – ring 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service. Explain your location clearly and describe any landmarks.
  • Enjoy organised water sports in a safe environment – with the correct equipment and a qualified instructor.

For further information on water safety visit:

Download the Water Safety leaflet

Water Safety Leaflet

Now watch the video ‘Filling Up’ by the Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service: