1. ITV Report

Teens warned - 'it's not a game'

Chorley Reservoir in Yarrow Valley Country Park, Lancashire where Thomas Barton tragically drowned last month. Photo:

A hard-hitting film has been launched today to warn North West teenagers about the potentially fatal consequences of swimming in reservoirs and other forms of open water such as quarries.

The 'Not a Game' film from water company United Utilities is backed by the region's emergency services, including Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue and the North West Ambulance Service.

Shot from the perspective of a teenage boy who decides to swim at a local reservoir, the film uses video gaming style graphics to accompany actions as they unfold on screen, culminating in images which show him getting into difficulties and drowning.

Mark Byard, United Utilities' health and safety manager, said: "If you lose a life in a computer game you just start again. But real life isn't like that. By combining realistic footage of a drowning incident with gaming style graphics, we wanted to hit home with teenagers that swimming in reservoirs is no game. Far from being fun, it can be fatal and there are no second chances."

'Not a Game' has been praised by emergency service teams across the region, anxious to avoid tragedy this summer. Greater Manchester and Lancashire Fire & Rescue teams are already planning to build the film into their community safety educational programmes.

Area Manager Dave Keelan, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's Head of Prevention Services, said: "Greater Manchester's reservoirs, rivers and canals are breath-taking locations but you just don't know what's underneath the surface - we, sadly, are well aware because our crews are regularly called to rescue people who have gone into the water and got into trouble.

"Our firefighters and community safety teams work hard to ensure those enjoying the water are fully aware of the hazards and why they shouldn't go in.''

In the past four years nine people have drowned in reservoirs and other bodies of water in the North West, the most recent being 15 year old Thomas Barton from Chorley who tragically died last month at Birkacre Brow in Yarrow Valley Park. In July 2011, 13 year old Dylan Ramsay lost his life after getting into difficulties at Hill Top Quarry in Whittle-le-Woods, near Chorley.

15 year old Thomas Barton who was from Coppull drowned last month in Chorley Credit: Lancashire Police
Dylan Ramsay - drowned in July 2011 Credit: Lancashire Police

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) hopes that United Utilities' film will help remind people of how real the dangers are. Derek Cartwright, Director of Emergency Services, said: "We cannot stress enough about the dangers of swimming in open water. When we experience hot weather, 999 calls increase for incidents whereby people have either got injured jumping in the water or who found themselves in difficulty, which can be life threatening,''

You can see the video at