Wiganers urged not to dice with death and use canals and lakes as makeshift swimming pools

Wiganers are warned about the hazards that going for a swim in our local waterways pose as a new heatwave hits Britain.

The Canal and River Trust and Wigan Water Safety Partnership say there could be life-threatening consequences to taking a dip in canals or lakes.

The popularity of our waterways has increased over the last two summers as they became an outdoor lifeline during the pandemic, allowing people to exercise.

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Locks and weirs are both attractive places to relax in the sun. But for thorse wanting to cool down from the summer heat, as appealing as going for a swim may be it poses a number of risks.

Canal at Haigh. Picture by Chris Winstanley

More than half of the 400 annual fatalities caused by drowning occur inland, in Britain’s canals, rivers, lakes and water-filled quarries.

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This shocking statistic is why the charity is a member of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) whose aims are to reduce water-related deaths and work with fellow members of the forum to promote water safety.

The trust warns the public of the potential dangers should we choose to enter our waterways in addition to alternatives so that we can still enjoy ourselves during the summer months.

These include having a cool drink as opposed to attempting to swim in these bodies of water, as even in the summer our canals, docks and resevoirs can be extremely cold, which may cause us to experience cold water shock.

This can result in a gasp reflex which puts you at great risk of drowning if you were to inhale water.

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Attempting to jump in may also cause severe injury as canals are often not as deep as we believe them to be.

Andrea Barrett, partnership and external relations manager at the Canal and River Trust, said: “Spending time on or by Greater Manchester’s waterways is a lovely way to spend a summer’s day and they are excellent places for families to explore during the warm weather.

"But it’s also important that people, especially children and teenagers, are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a dip. The consequences can be devastating.” she added.

Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for police, crime and civil contingencies at Wigan Council, said: “If you get into trouble there are no life guards to help you.

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"Please, stay safe this summer and follow the advice found on the Canal and River Trust’s website.”