Children urged not to dice with death

Photo: David Hurst
Youths ignore the dangers of swimming in Appley Bridge Quarry, Wigan
Photo: David Hurst Youths ignore the dangers of swimming in Appley Bridge Quarry, Wigan

Firefighters have issued an early warning to youngsters thinking of dicing with death in the borough’s canals, ponds and water-filled quarries.

The message to stay safe was accompanied with statics showing that crews have had to carry out no fewer than 20 rescues or mainly young people from open water in the space of three years.

And firefighters across Greater Manchester have rescued more than 235 people from water since January 2013.

Paul Etches, head of prevention at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We don’t want to dampen anyone’s fun, but we really want to make sure that you’re safe.

“Even if it is a warm day, water can still be very cold and cause cramp and breathing difficulties which can affect your ability to swim and get out of trouble. Water can be far deeper and stronger than people think and there are unknown hazards that lie beneath the surface.”

A total of 24 people died as a result of getting into trouble in water over the last three years.

Paul added: “Water can be tempting especially when the weather is good, but the consequences can be fatal. Roughly half of people who drown had no intention of entering water in the first place.

“Please only swim somewhere safe, such as a swimming pool, but if you do see someone in an emergency, ring 999 and clearly explain where you are.”

The warning has added poignancy and potency in Wigan where one water-filled quarry - in Appley Bridge - has claimed the lives of two schoolboys in the last 25 years.

The more recent victim was 13-year-old Marsh Green youngster Miracle Godson who got into difficulty in the waters and drowned there two years ago.

The police helicopter has swooped over the area, warning young people off, and the landowners have said they have done all they can to stop trespassing, but it is still attracting trouble.

The safety messages come as GMFRS supports the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Water Safety and Drowning Prevention campaign.

The campaign ‘Be Water Aware’ runs to April 30.