Emergency services urge people to take care around water

Credit: ITV West Country

Emergency services are urging people to take care when swimming in wild waters or relaxing near the waterfront. 

It comes after 23-year-old Joseph Omar died in Bristol Harbour last weekend.

Rescue services are hoping to raise awareness of the hidden dangers beneath the water and remind people what to do in an emergency. 

Harry Awramenko, Avon Fire & Rescue Service Group Manager, said:

“While it may seem tempting to cool off in the water, even in the height of summer the waters in England remain cold enough to induce involuntary cold water shock which causes even the strongest swimmers to gasp for breath, inhale water, cause panic and too often leads to drowning.

“In the past two years we’ve responded to over 70 water related incidents in Bristol alone, and, sadly, 25 of those resulted in serious injury or death. We urge you to avoid swimming in the water to keep yourself safe from drowning and other water-related injuries.

“If you get into trouble near the water, or notice someone needs help, please call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.”

Jon James, Head of Service Natural & Marine Environment at Bristol City Council said the Harbourside is one of the most popular destinations across the region when the weather is good "and we expect this summer to be one of the busiest yet".

"In recent weeks we’ve received several reports of people entering the water, many under the influence of alcohol or other substances which significantly adds to the risk of injury and death. This behaviour is not only irresponsible but also endangers the lives of others who are working or travelling on the water or anyone who puts themselves at risk to rescue them.

"We’re exploring the potential of introducing safe, managed and segregated swimming to the harbourside, but this is not in place right now. It requires facilities and more intensive management of a section of water which is all being discussed as part of the upcoming Western Harbour development. Until such facilities are in place, swimming in the harbour without the prior consent of the Harbour Master remains a dangerous activity that carries a significant risk of harm."

You can find more information on water safety on the Avon Fire & Rescue website.