The dangers of swimming in reservoirs

Swimming in reservoirs can be dangerous.
Swimming in reservoirs can be dangerous.

Swim in a reservoir or disused quarry and you could end up dead, that’s the warning being given by NI Water.

They stressed that you may think you can handle it, that you’re a strong swimmer – but even on the warmest of days, the water is still bitterly cold and you can lose control in seconds.

NI Water and Quarry Products Association NI have joined forces to put out a strong campaign message to the community, especially children and young people, to stay away from disused reservoirs, quarries and other bodies of water that are not open for public access. This will involve a safety and awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of reservoir and quarry water.

Part of the new campaign involves a competition, open to all youth and community groups in Northern Ireland, to encourage safety around water. Jointly organised by NI Water and Quarry Products Association NI, we encourage groups to showcase their creative talents to encourage water safety this summer. This can be by recording a video, designing a poster, staging a drama piece, or by any other creative means. Entry is open to all youth and community groups across Northern Ireland, and we encourage everyone to get their creative juices flowing. Groups stand to win two iPads for use by their group, which could be of great use.

Water bodies can often be beautiful places, and are ideal for a family picnic or a walk. However, as Michael Bergin, Health and Safety Manager at NI Water explains, there’s a very real danger lurking beneath the water:

“Understandably, a reservoir can look like the perfect place to cool down and have some fun with friends. However, below the surface lie some hidden dangers:

Hidden strong undercurrents can drag you under or sweep even the strongest swimmer away from the edge.

Weeds and plants can entangle you under the water and prevent you from resurfacing.

There are often draw off pipes / and valves located just beneath the surface that may not be apparent / visible.

Water is continually being drawn through these pipes causing strong currents to be formed in their vicinity.

Reservoir/Quarry water is very deep and dangerously cold – particularly if you have consumed alcohol.

Reservoirs/Quarries can be in isolated places; therefore, it is likely to be too late for help to arrive if you are in trouble.

“We would appeal to parents to explain to children and young people the dangers of playing in or around these areas.

“We are delighted to be working alongside Quarry Products Association NI to promote this vital message, one that is important at all times of the year, not just the summer.

“The message couldn’t be simpler – enjoy the beauty of reservoirs and open bodies of water this summer, but do it safely. A quick dip can all too easily lead to a quick death.”

Gordon Best, Regional Director of Quarry Products Association NI, said: “Safety around water is a matter of concern to our two organisations, and we are very keen to raise awareness of the dangers as we enter the summer period. This is part of a campaign launched by colleagues in the Department of the Environment and the Department of Justice, with widespread support from other agencies, to promote awareness of water safety in Northern Ireland. Quarry Products Association NI is pleased to work alongside NI Water in the promotion of our competition, designed to encourage communities to stay safe around water bodies. This is a unique opportunity for groups across our community to showcase their creative talents through the mediums of YouTube, online forums or other methods to warn people of all ages of the dangers of water.

“It is in everyone’s interests to stay safe and enjoy water bodies without the need to get in.

“We appeal to everyone to recognise the dangers and take care around water this summer. A swim or a dip may seem like a great idea, but it could all end in tragedy. Don’t take the risk.”