Warning after teens die

Dangers of swimming in rivers and quarries under-estimated, say fire chiefs.

The tragic deaths of two teenagers within a three-day period last week has led fire chiefs to issue a warning about dangers posed by open water locations.

Fire and rescue personnel were tasked to recover the bodies of the teens, who died while swimming in a river and a quarry.

“Whilst our thoughts go out to the families of those affected by these tragic incidents, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is urging parents and guardians to remain vigilant regarding the dangers posed to children at unsupervised ‘open-water locations’ such as quarries, lakes and canals,” said a spokesman.

As East Devon bathed in sunshine, Station Manager Andy Justice said: “It’s natural for children and teenagers to gather near open-water locations to cool off.

“However, analysis of drowning incidents suggest that most people have a poor level of awareness of safety issues in such environments.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that people generally under-estimate the hazards presented by open-water and, whilst the immediate dangers of drowning are apparent, guardians should also be mindful of the long term ill-health effects of Weil’s disease and other infectious diseases associated with rivers and canals.”

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Other dangers include:

Hidden currents

It can be deep and difficult to estimate depth

No lifeguards

Weirs and other man made features i.e. locks

Very cold temperatures - in the UK, even in the summer, the sea temperatures rarely exceed 15oC with inland lakes such as quarries being often colder

Water pollution may make you ill

It can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)

There may be hidden rubbish like shopping trolleys or broken glass.

Key safety tips for staying safe near water

Alcohol and swimming do not mix - stay out of the water if you have been drinking

Always watch your child while at the beach, lake or other natural bodies of water

Never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds

Do not swim near motor boats, jet skis or other power vehicles

Never interfere with lifesaving equipment - you might need it yourself

Learn to spot and keep away from dangerous water

Take safety advice - heed notices which warn you of the danger

Children should always visit open water sites with an adult

Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.