People are being urged not to risk swimming in reservoirs during the warm weather.

The warning came from United Utilities, which is responsible for 150 reservoirs across the North West, including Fishmoor, Hurstwood, Roddlesworth, Spademill and Rivington.

Alaister Downie, Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at United Utilities, said: “Not only is swimming in reservoirs strictly prohibited, but it’s also extremely dangerous. We continue to hear of the needless deaths of people accidently drowning in open water.

“The water may look refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but it is deceptively cold. Even in the summer the water will rarely get above 11°C – colder than the water that comes out of your cold tap.

"Even strong swimmers will struggle to keep their heads above water, your body can go into shock, your heart will be working over-time to pump blood to your internal organs, and you’ll lose control of your muscles.”

Machinery installed by United Utilities at the bottom of the reservoir to pump water adds other danger to swimmers by creating a strong current, while the steep sides and sudden drops can be hazardous for anyone trying to get out. 

According to the Royal Life Saving Society UK, accidental drowning kills around 400 people in the UK and Ireland each year, with about 44% happening between May and August.

Area Manager, Mark Winder of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There are many hidden dangers of swimming in open water. 

"The shock of cold water can get even strong swimmers into difficulty, it doesn’t matter how fit and healthy you are, the water is always stronger. The water can be deep, submerged objects may not be visible and it’s difficult to estimate the depth before you get in. Whilst swimmers may be able to enter the water, there are not always suitable places to climb out.

“Finally, we urge parents to have conversations with their teenage children about water safety. There are materials available on the Royal Life Saving Society’s website to help parents learn more about water safety.”

Alaister Downie added: “This is a hugely important message that needs to be spread far and wide.

“Lancashire is lucky to have so many beauty spots, but the dangers of swimming in cold water are significant and there should be no excuses. 

“Go and walk your dog, enjoy a picnic or a ramble – just don’t go in the water! 

“The North West has lost two teenagers to drowning in reservoirs in the North West in recent times – that is not a number we want to see go up.”

United Utilities has launched a reservoir safety educational pack for teachers and parents, designed to help them learn about the dangerous of reservoir swimming in an interactive and engaging way.

To download the pack click here