News article created on 21 June 2019

Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service launch safety campaign

We are working in partnership with Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service and Mel Goodship, whose son James tragically drowned in Lower Foulridge Reservoir in 2014, to highlight the dangers of swimming in open water this summer.

Foulridge Reservoir safety launch Foulridge Reservoir safety launch

James’ family will unveil two new throwlines and safety signage boards which have been installed in his memory. A rescue demonstration will take place on the reservoir and local school children will also be taught how to use the throwlines to help save somebody that is in distress.

Summer is one of the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers, and between April 2017 and March 2018 there were more than 372 million visits made by boaters, cyclists, runners, walkers and canoeists. However, unfortunately, when the weather warms people sometimes get into difficulties after jumping into the canals, rivers or open water to cool down. Of the 400 people who drown in the UK every year (1), more than half the fatalities happen at inland waters such as canals, rivers, lakes, quarries and reservoirs (2).

We are asking people to find other ways to cool down this summer and to avoid getting in the water:

  • Canals, rivers and open water will be really cold, even in the summer, and will take your breath away and paralyse your muscles making it difficult to swim.
  • If you want to jump and dive into water, head to your local swimming pool, don’t get in locks or canals. Canals and rivers can be shallow and you could hurt yourself if you jump in.
  • Lounge in the shade of waterside trees, rather than get tangled in waterway reeds.
  • Have a cool drink or an ice lolly at a waterside café.
  • Keep your cool – chill out by the water and enjoy the peacefulness of the water.

Daniel Greenhalgh, Regional Director at Canal & River Trust said: “Spending time on or by places like Lower Foulridge Reservoir is a lovely way to enjoy a summer’s day and they are excellent places for families to explore during the holidays. But it’s also important that people, especially children and teenagers, are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a swim. The consequences can be devastating.

“It’s heartbreaking what happened to James. We’ve been working with Mel and the region’s fire and rescue services for the past few years to improve signage and lifesaving equipment at known ‘hotspots’ to try and raise awareness of the dangers of swimming in open water. We hope the information displayed will help deter people from swimming and, if the worst should happen, throw lines could save another tragedy from happening.”

Mel Goodship’s 17-year-old son James drowned on 22nd June 2014 while swimming with friends in Lower Foulridge Reservoir, Lancashire.  Mel says: “James used to mess around in the water with his friends; he was a strong swimmer so we just thought he’d be fine. We had never sat our children down and explained the dangers of the water, I didn’t really know what they were myself. The shock of the cold water paralyzed his muscles, took his energy and took his life.  If you’re thinking about getting into any stretch of water which isn’t supervised, please don’t.”

Group Manager Mark Hutton, from Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service added: “We are really pleased to work with Canal & River Trust to install water safety boards and by doing so recognising just how important they can be in preventing loss of life, both in terms of the important safety messages they convey, and also their life saving function in the event of an emergency.

“Raising awareness of the hazards that water can present is so important and this week sees the launch of the Royal Life Saving Society’s annual ‘Drowning Prevention Week’ campaign. We hope that this campaign, and boards like these, have a real impact on people’s awareness of water risk as sadly every year we see loss of life which could be prevented through increased understanding and awareness.”

Our ‘Explorers’ water safety programme, which focuses on children in Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum, aims to help young people learn about and enjoy their local canal or river safely and can also be used towards a number of Cub Scout and Brownie badges. Dozens of volunteers nationwide help the Trust each year by visiting schools and speaking to youth groups about their local canal or river and in four years have reached more than 125,000 children with water safety messages.