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Water Safety

During the school holidays, and in particular in hot weather, increasing numbers of children are drowning. On average, there are 50 of these tragedies each year in the UK.

Keep reading to see our top tips on how to stay safe around open water.

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The water is often far deeper than people think.

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It’s very cold, and can quickly cause cramp and breathing difficulties.

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It may contain hidden rubbish and debris such as shopping trolleys and broken glass which can cause injuries and drowning.

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Sometimes it can be polluted and makes them very ill.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – Water Safety

Swimming in open water can be great for exercise and a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors. But it can also be very dangerous. Many people who get into trouble never intended to enter the water in the first place, so be sure to take extra care when walking or jogging alongside waterways.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service discourages anyone to swim in canals, rivers, lakes, quarries, the sea or any other open water who is not part of an organised swimming group. Click here to find a swimming group near you (opens in a new window).

Remember: if you spot anyone in trouble in the water, call 999 right away.

Many people sadly lose their lives in the UK in and around water each year. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of dangers you can face.

Let’s take a look at seven things to watch out for:

  1. Slippery banks – the banks on rivers and lakes can be very slippery, making it hard to exit the water.
  2. Waste – unfortunately, some people dump their rubbish into our waterways. This can harm you if you touch sharp or entangling objects.
  3. Pollution – some waterways contain dangerous chemicals which can hurt you.
  4. Currents – underwater currents can be very strong and sweep you away from safety within seconds.
  5. Cold temperatures – open water in the UK remains cold all year round. This can cause your muscles to stop working properly. It can also make you gasp for air, potentially causing you to breathe in water.
  6. Water levels – the depth of open water changes drastically. This can make wading treacherous, and means you should never dive in without knowing the water’s depth.
  7. No lifeguard – swimming in the great outdoors means that you may be very isolated and that nobody will be there to help if things go wrong.

If you want to go swimming, it is much safer to go to a purpose-built swimming pool with a lifeguard present at all times.

Here are some bonus tips for staying safe around water:

  • Never swim anywhere with a no swimming sign.
  • Never swim if you have been drinking alcohol or using drugs.
  • Never allow older children to swim unsupervised in rivers, quarries or lakes.

Additional Resources

Click here to learn more about beach, coast and sea safety (opens in a new window).

Click here for more tips on how to enjoy open water swimming safely (opens in a new window).


Last year, James Goodship tragically lost his life after getting into difficulties at Foulridge Reservoir. Find out more about his story from his family and friends in this video.

Below, you’ll see find information about how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe around lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and more.