(Picture – Pontsticill Reservoir)
Family and friends of a teenager who drowned in a welsh reservoir are warning people not to swim in reservoirs.
The call comes during The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week, which aims to increase awareness of water safety. RLSS’s national campaign runs from 15 – 25 June with an aim to cut the 400 accidental drownings that occur every year in the UK.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is supporting the campaign with the One Last Breath video campaign which starkly depicts two teenagers who drown after going into the water at a reservoir on a hot summer day – and the terrible impact on their friends and family left behind.
(The video below contains scenes you may find upsetting)
Maxine Johnson and his friends, Lauren Mitchell, Kyle Thomas and Mathew Scofield of Reuben Morgan, a 15-year-old boy who tragically died after going missing when swimming at Pontsticill Reservoir, near Merthyr Tydfil have backed Welsh Water’s hard-hitting “One Last Breath” campaign which urges people not to enter reservoirs, even on hot summer days.
Lauren Jennings, 22 from Merthyr Tydfil, lost one of her best friends while swimming in a reservoir in 2006. She said she didn’t realise how important the messages were until it was too late.
“There were signs everywhere but we ignored them. As a 15 year old, you just think you are invincible and that it wouldn’t happen to me or any of us.
“It could have been any one of us, or more than one of us. I want to do all I can to make sure people realise that no matter how beautiful the reservoirs look, the reality is they are very dangerous.”
Welsh Water, which serves most of Wales and Herefordshire, is issuing the warning about the extreme danger of swimming in reservoirs because of freezing temperatures, deadly under-currents and hidden machinery that can drag the strongest swimmers under.
Welsh Water’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Perry, said:
“Our reservoirs are great places to enjoy organised activities but all too often people are tempted to risk taking a swim which can lead to tragic consequences.
“While reservoirs might seem like a great place to cool off, they are full of hidden dangers with freezing cold water and strong currents.
“We ask customers to remember that reservoirs are working sites that are an important part of the water cycle. This is why we display signage at these sites and undertake campaigns asking customers not to swim at any time.”
RLSS UK’s Chief Operating Officer, Di Steer said:
“We need everyone’s help to raise awareness about the reality of accidental drowning, and we’re delighted that Dŵr Cymru is supporting the campaign.
“We urge as many people as possible to watch this video and just spend a bit of time making sure they know how to stay safe near water.
“Most of us are generally aware of the hazards at the beach but tend to overlook dangers closer to home like water temperature, sudden changes in depth or hidden debris. A few simple steps are all it takes to prevent a tragedy.”
(Below is the welsh version of the campaign, again contains scenes you may find upsetting)
- Drowning Prevention Week is the national campaign run by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to cut down the number of accidental drownings that occur each year and support families affected by drowning.
- The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) is the Drowning Prevention Charity.
- In 2013, over the same weekend, two people at reservoirs in Brecon Beacons drowned – and between July and September there were 229 near misses in our reservoirs
- In 2014, between April and September there were 97 near misses in our reservoirs.
- In 2015, between May and September there were 149 near-misses in our reservoirs. One incident involved an adult and a child on an inflatable canoe.
- In 2016, between May and September there were 88 people attempted to swim in our reservoirs
- In 2017, between May and September, during our very hot summer 300 people attempted to swim in our reservoirs.