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Drownings prompt warnings about open water swimming in Yorkshire

Two people drowned in the River Foss, York, in March this year.

Two people drowned in the River Foss, York, in March this year.

By Joseph Keith

Deaths in and around open water have led to the emergency services urging people to take extra care during the warm weather in Yorkshire.

A statement by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service said the area’s popular waterways – which include lakes and rivers in Otley, York, Knaresborough, Ilkley and Leeds – are more dangerous than people may think.

Vince Larvin, locality director of emergency operations at the trust, said: “Water can look calm on the surface but contain unseen debris and, rivers in particular, can have treacherous undercurrents.

“Although it is banned, people are also often tempted to swim in reservoirs without realising that there is automatic equipment located under the surface which can operate without warning and cause dangerous hidden currents.”

The warnings come after a spate of deaths in the UK – with 22-year-old Ben Clarkson, who drowned in York’s River Foss and Megan Roberts, 20, whose body was also found in March, in York’s river Ouse.

Mr Larvin said the near-freezing temperature of deep water is cold enough to take your breath away, which is an uncontrollable natural reaction that can lead to panic and drowning.

He added: “Cold can also make your arms and legs numb which means you can’t control them to swim and can also lead to hypothermia – a serious reduction in body temperature – which can cause heart failure.”

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