Enjoy waterways safely, fire service urges - Cambridgeshire

The fire service is urging young people to stay safe around Cambridgeshire’s waterways as schools prepare to break up for the summer this week.

Scorching hot temperatures are set to hit the county and the fire service wants the public to keep the #RememberRony campaign on their minds before they get tempted to cool down in rivers and lakes.

Group Commander Chris Parker, head of community fire safety at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, explained: “Our county has lots of beauty spots near the water and they are especially lovely to enjoy when the sun is shining. We often find young people gather in numerous hotspots near lakes and rivers – some of which are not always the easiest to access for emergency vehicles – and often teenagers who are unwinding after busy weeks of exams may be tempted to cool off and play in the water.

“We don’t want to spoil people’s summer fun by telling them not to jump into rivers and lakes, but we do feel it is important to educate the whole community about the risk open water poses if you are not a trained professional with the correct equipment and kit.”

During the past five years there have been 13 deaths, 18 people injured (with or without rescue) and 29 people rescued (without injury) from Cambridgeshire’s waterways.

People are being warned that even if it is a warm summer’s day, the water can be very cold and can quickly cause cramp and breathing difficulties which can affect your ability to swim and get out of trouble. Water can be far deeper and currents stronger than people think and there are unknown hazards that lie beneath the surface.

The #RememberRony campaign launched in May 2015 and aims to educate the community about the risks associated with open water. It is backed by the family of Huntingdon schoolboy Rony John, who sadly died in 2014 during the first week of the summer holidays, while playing with friends in the Great River Ouse.

Chris added: “It is also important that if you see someone in trouble in water that you know what to do. Call 999 immediately with clear details of your location and if possible send someone to the nearest road to flag down the emergency services when they arrive. 

“You can find the nearest life ring or anything that could help them float, and if someone goes under the water, mark on the water’s edge the place they were last seen with something like a piece of clothing.”

For more information about water safety visit www.cambsfire.gov.uk or to pledge that you will stay safe around open water this summer, use the hashtag #RememberRony on social media.