Don't risk a dip in a reservoir - warning following double tragedy

Firefighters and a water company in Greater Manchester are warning people not to risk their lives by swimming in reservoirs and lakes.

The latest warning comes after two men drowned, in unrelated incidents, on Tuesday June 5, after swimming in reservoirs in Bolton and Gorton.

Crews were first called at 14.03pm to reports of a male getting into difficulty whilst swimming in High Rid reservoir, Bolton.

Firefighters from Bolton North and Horwich arrived at the scene in minutes and quickly set about searching the water’s edge for signs of the man. With no signs of a person, Water Rescue Units proceeded to search the surface of the lake whilst an air ambulance provided aerial support.

Unfortunately after two hours of searching a body was located by the water incident team which was then recovered by police divers.

Just two hours later, at 16.10pm, two fire engines from Gorton, along with specialist appliances from Heywood and Ashton-under-Lyne were called to reports of a male underwater in Gorton Reservoir.

Firefighters quickly arrived and proceeded to use a buoyancy aid and safety line to search the reservoir, but were unable to locate the man.

The police underwater rescue units eventually found the body nearly two and a half hours after the initial search began.

Paul Etches, Head of Prevention at GMFRS, said: “These are two incredibly sad incidents that could have so easily been avoided, and our thoughts first and foremost are with the families of those who have lost their lives.

“Water can be tempting, especially in the warm weather but do not take the risk. Reservoirs and lakes are incredibly dangerous and hide many tricky and unknown hazards like rocks, shopping trolleys and broken bottles and especially in reservoirs there is often machinery working beneath the surface which can cause people real trouble.

“These are huge bodies of deep, open water and the temperature rarely rises above 12°C. This is cold enough to cause shock and increased breathing rate. Muscles will stiffen and fatigue will set in very quickly making it impossible to swim to safety.

“I would urge the public to never swim in open water, as tempting as it sometimes is. If you feel the urge to swim, visit your local swimming baths and if you ever see anyone in trouble in the water call 999 and clearly explain where you are, providing nearby landmarks to the operator – but don’t put yourself in danger.”

United Utilities, the region’s water company, works with the emergency services and schools to raise awareness of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs.

Sian Corr, Health and Safety manager, at United Utilities, said: “Every year we do our best to get the message across and stress the risk people are taking when they ignore the warning signs and choose to take a dip in a reservoir. We will continue to raise awareness but it is so sad that the tragedies keep on happening. Our thoughts are with the families affected today.”

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