Welsh Water reminds public to stay out of the water at reservoirs as warm temperatures forecast for Bank Holiday weekend

26 May 2023

Welsh Water is urging people of all ages to stay out of the water at reservoirs as the temperature is set to rise over the next week.

  • Welsh Water is reminding people of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs ahead of a warm bank holiday weekend and half term.
  • Last year (2022), there were 48 water-related fatalities across Wales. 22 of these were accidental drownings across inland and coastal locations with 4 of those under the age of 20(1).
  • 50% of drownings happened at inland water sites such as rivers and lakes.(2)

Welsh Water is urging people of all ages to stay out of the water at reservoirs as the temperature is set to rise over the next week.

Every year, large numbers of individuals and families take to the water to swim, paddle, or use inflatables in reservoirs across Wales, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.

Last year, there were 48 water-related fatalities across Wales. 50% of those incidents took place at inland water sites such as rivers, lakes and canals. The dangers of swimming in reservoirs include:

  • Hidden equipment beneath the surface of the water which can operate without warning.
  • Deep, freezing water that can cause even strong swimmers to find themselves in difficulty.
  • Reduced chance of rescue due to the remote location of many reservoirs, with little or no mobile reception.

Organised open water swimming activities are available at a small number of our Visitor Attractions sites where it is considered safe and appropriate to swim. These open water swimming sessions are controlled and supervised, with qualified RLSS open water lifeguards.

Ian Christie, MD Water, Asset Planning & Capital Delivery Water Services at Welsh Water said “With warm, sunny weather predicted for the upcoming bank holiday weekend and half term, it’s extremely important that people are aware of the dangers of entering the water at our reservoirs. Our sites are beautiful, and we want to encourage everyone to enjoy them with friends and family – but please stay safe while doing so.

“We know that the water can look tempting, but unauthorised swimming not only puts your own life at risk, but also the lives of people who may try and help you. Cold water shock, hidden machinery and deadly currents can cause even the strongest of swimmers to struggle in the water.

“Rangers patrol and police our reservoirs in the interest of public safety and you’ll see more of us out and about during the summer month and if caught in the water, you will be asked to get out. With last year seeing the highest number of water-related fatalities in young people in Wales since records began, we hope this message reaches anyone who may be tempted to take a dip in a reservoir. We’re not here to spoil your fun – we’re here to make sure you stay safe.”

Welsh Water’s ‘Beautiful but Deadly’ safety campaign is set to launch at the beginning of the summer and will urge people in Wales to educate themselves about the dangers hidden below the beautiful surface of some of Wales’s beauty spots.

Chris Cousens, Chair of Water Safety Wales, said: ‘Recently released data showed 22 accidental drownings in Wales in 2022. While this is a reduction on 2021 it is still higher than we want it to be and many of these incidents occur in the summer months.

'I support the effort from Welsh Water to make sure people stay safe while visiting reservoirs.'

‘Welsh Water is a member of Water Safety Wales, who believe one drowning is too many. We’d urge people to understand the risks associated with open water and seek help if required.

‘Anyone who is in trouble in open water is encouraged to float to live and in any emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for fire and rescue service at any inland water location.’

If an individual comes into trouble in the water, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) encourages people to Float to Live. People should fight the urge to panic and relax and float on their back until the effects of cold-water shock pass and the person can self-rescue or call for help.

  • If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live.
  • Lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float, then get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming to safety.
  • If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112. If you are at a reservoir, river, canal or other inland location ask for the Fire and Rescue Service. If you are at the coast, ask for the Coastguard.

Visit dwrcymru.com/reservoirsafety for more information.

(1) The highest number since comparable data became available from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) in 2015.
(2) 2022 WAID insight, maintained by the NWSF (National Water Safety Forum) for Wales.