Water Wise Yorkshire

In 2021 over 30 organisations across Yorkshire joined forces to drive home the importance of being water wise in summer and help people understand how to be safe in and around water.

All Fire and Rescue Services, Police forces and Local Resilience Forums across Yorkshire, together with a number of Local Authorities, Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency, Canal & River Trust, HM Coastguard, the RNLI, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and the Outdoor Swimming Society backed the #WaterWiseYorkshire campaign to increase awareness of the dangers of open water swimming for inexperienced people.

Knowing and understanding the hazards of open water – both inland and at the coast – could help to drastically reduce the number of people who get into difficulty each year.

“As tempting as it may be to go for a quick dip on a hot day, open water swimming can be dangerous even for the most experienced swimmers due to a multitude of hazards. If you’re at all unsure, the best advice is to stay out of the water or find a swimming area with lifeguards.”

RLSS UK’s Charity Director, Lee Heard

Key messages:

Do not drink and dive – Alcohol and swimming do not mix! Alcohol badly affects judgement, swimming ability and body temperature.

Read the signs – Literally, read the signs! If the landowner has put signage up saying the water isn’t safe to enter please take notice. There could be dangerous currents, obstacles or poor water quality, even if it looks okay on the surface.

Stick together – Whether they swim with you or watch from the shore, always make sure you have someone with you who can call for help if you get into difficulties. Always keep an eye on non-swimmers and children, even in shallow areas as they may unexpectedly drop off steeply.

Acclimatise: cold water shock kills – As hot as it may be on land, water bodies in Yorkshire remain very cold all year round. Jumping or diving into cold water can cause a gasp reflex, which can lead to panic and possibly drowning. Paddling/wading gives your body the chance to adjust to the temperature and helps reduce the risk.

Float to live – If you get into difficulty, the simplest but most important advice is Float to Live. Fight your instinct to thrash around. Lean back and extend your arms and legs. Float until you can control your breathing. Only then, call for help or swim to safety.

What lies beneath – Unexpected obstacles, machinery, strong rips or currents and hidden depths are all dangers to experienced and non-experienced swimmers alike.

“If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112. If you’re at the coast, ask for the Coastguard. If you’re inland, ask for the fire service.”

Nick Ayers, Regional Water Safety Lead at the RNLI

To help spread the message as far and wide as possible, we have created some graphics to use across social media, as well as a couple of posters/leaflets. Please feel free to use them on your own channels to get the #WaterWiseYorkshire message out. To download a copy, click on the thumbnails below.

(Please note: There may be a difference in colour between the thumbnails and the downloaded files – the downloaded files are the correct version).

Social media graphics:

Poster (versions with/without West Yorkshire Prepared web address):

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For further information on the #WaterWiseYorkshire campaign, please read the press release or contact liz.armitage@westyorksfire.gov.uk.