Water safety advice issued following lake drowning

Stanborough lakes

The emergency services at Stanborough Lakes - Credit: Ali Horsfall

In the wake of a man tragically drowning in Stanborough Lakes last week, swimmers are being warned to take extra care when out in open water this summer.

Herts police were called shortly after 8.15pm on July 20 to reports that a man was in difficulty in the water at Stanborough, and officers were soon joined at the scene by colleagues from the fire and ambulance services.

Following a search of the water the man was located but despite the best efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

An eyewitness said: "I happened to be at the lake at the time it unravelled. I witnessed two swimmers and then distress as one apparently went underwater. Police were at the scene within 10 minutes with rescue teams quickly in the water."

Now, with the possibility of warm weather returning, Herts county council has issued safety advice for swimming in open water.

The south lake, Stanborough Lakes. Picture: DANNY LOO

The south lake, Stanborough Lakes - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO


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Dangers of open water swimming

Even on a very hot day, the water can be freezing, and as soon as you enter you can lose your breath and experience what is called cold water shock, which makes it very hard to swim.

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If this happens the RNLI recommends you 'float to live'. Lean back and extend your arms and legs to help you float and get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming.

There are also many unseen dangers beneath the surface when swimming in a river, lake or canal.

Herts County Council strongly advises against swimming in open water, but if you do they suggest making sure you have someone with you who stays on the shore and can call for help if needed.

What do to in a water emergency

Dial 999 straight away in the event of an emergency and don’t attempt to get in to the water yourself to rescue someone, as there is a good chance that you’ll need to be rescued too.

Know your location so you can tell emergency services where you are. A great way to do this is to download the what3words app, which divides the world into 3 metre squares giving each location a unique address which will help 999 call handlers pinpoint your exact location in the event of an emergency.

Also, look around for any rescue equipment such as lifebuoy or even something like a piece of wood or a football can be used as a floating aid.

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