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Mother teams up with Nottinghamshire Police to warn people of dangers of swimming in open water at Balderton, Farndon, Hoveringham and Gunthorpe after her son, 12, drowns saving two friends

A mother has warned members of the public not to enter bodies of open water like at Balderton, Farndon, Hoveringham and Gunthorpe as schools break up for summer and the weather dramatically improves, after her son drowned saving two of his friends.

Nicola Jenkins has teamed up with Nottinghamshire Police to warn people of the dangers of swimming in open water after her 12-year-old son, Owen, died in July 2017 rescuing his friends from Beeston Weir when they got into difficulty.

The dangers of swimming in open bodies of water. (39580956)
The dangers of swimming in open bodies of water. (39580956)

After saving one friend, Owen returned to the water to rescue another but, with the current being too strong, it dragged him under and sadly he didn't resurface.

Owen gave his life to save another and died a hero.

More people are likely to visit county beauty spots to enjoy warmer weather as the covid-19 lockdown eases.

Young people have already been seen entering open water at the Erewash Canal and the River Erewash in the Stapleford area. Other water courses in the borough, such as the River Trent at Beeston Weir, are also areas of concern and particular risk.

Mrs Jenkins, who founded the Open Water Education Network (OWEN) water safety programme in Owen's memory, said: "With the weather getting warmer, water is inviting. The first thing children want to do is cool off but they don’t think about the dangers.

"If you jump into the water, the temperature outside is warmer than the temperature of the water, so you’re probably likely to go into cold water shock. That’s where your body goes into an automatic shock response so your heart beats faster and you start gasping for air.

"There are also hidden dangers like undercurrents, debris in the water and potentially sharp objects. Don’t take the risk by going into the water just for some fun. It’s really not worth your life.

"I’d also urge parents to speak to their children about the risks of what can happen by going into open water and tell them about Owen’s story."

Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: "We hope that people will recognise the risks and the tragic consequences that can occur and avoid swimming in open water, no matter how tempting it might be in the hot weather.

"We’re urging people not to go into open water. Even if you consider yourself to be a strong swimmer, you can suddenly get out of your depth or be taken unawares by hidden undercurrents or cold water shock as the temperature of the water can change very quickly."

Notts Fire and Rescue Service station manager Simon Glew said: "Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service work hard to create safer communities through the use of water safety advice.

"We often provide a presence and advise people that swimming and jumping into open water, such as rivers, canals, ponds and lakes, can be extremely dangerous as you don’t know what hazards lie below the surface.

"Undercurrents can sweep you off your feet and put you in immediate danger which is when you may need help. We ask you not to jump or swim in waters such as these due to the potential consequences.

"Please remember to be vigilant and if you see someone struggling in the water call 999. If you are struggling in the water call for help and lay backwards whilst floating."

The dangers of open water include:

Temperature — the water can be extremely cold, which can lead to a number of physiological conditions that affect the ability to swim

Strong or hidden currents — water being pumped out of reservoirs creates currents that aren’t always noticeable

Depth — it is difficult to estimate the depth of open water and it can change dramatically, even close to the bank

Hidden hazards — such as weeds, rubbish or broken glass could trap a young person or cause injury

Climbing out — once in the water it can be difficult to get out due to steep, slimy or crumbling banks

Pollution — this can affect any stretch of water, but may particularly be an issue at old industrial sites such as quarries

To read more about water safety on the Royal Life Saving Society’s website visit here.

For more information about the Open Water Education Network (OWEN) visit their Facebook page here.

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