WITH temperatures rising and school holidays finally here firefighters in Cheshire are warning Knutsford youngsters to swim safely and don’t be tempted to cool off in open water.

With many meres located around the town – including Booths Mere and Tatton Mere – Cheshire Fire and Rescue has warned the town’s residents about the dangers.

Drowning is the third highest cause of death in children and causes more than 400 UK deaths every year.

Firefighters and other emergency services are often caused to these incidents and also risk their own safety to rescue people who get into difficulties.

The service said that cooling off in rivers, canals, ponds, quarries and lakes may seem great fun but it can have deadly consequences.

Alex Waller, from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “People will no doubt be very happy to see the temperatures rising and we want you to enjoy the summer, however we also want it to be done safely.

“Sadly, each year people die swimming in open water. Our advice is to only ever swim outdoors as part of organised open water swimming club. Don’t let a cooling dip be the last thing you ever do. Please follow our advice to stay safe this summer.”

Risks include the cold water causing a swimmer’s body to shut down, or the onset of cramp which can leave a person unable to continue.

Certain waterways can also have strong undercurrents or underwater debris that can prove fatal. These conditions can affect anyone, even an experienced open water swimmer.

The service has issued the following advice: only swim as part of an organised group, never go swimming alone, ensure you stay clear of boats and canoes to avoid accidents, never drink alcohol before swimming, know your limits – the cold can kill, don’t ignore the safety signs – it could cost you your life.

For more information about water safety or for links to local organised open water swimming clubs please visit the service’s website at cheshirefire.gov.uk.