EMERGENCY medics say young people will die unless they heed warnings against swimming in open water during the current heatwave.
School holidays began this week and bosses from West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) have issued a stark message to highlight the dangers of taking a dip in disused quarries or canals.
The warning comes on the second anniversary of a tragedy in Himley which claimed the life of 15-year-old Augusto Zacarias, who drowned while swimming in an abandoned quarry known as blue lagoon on July 25, 2012.
John Woodhall, WMAS hazardous area response team support manager, said: “Water-filled quarries claim lives every year through drowning accidents. They have slippery slopes and unstable rock ledges. The water, which looks inviting, may conceal old machinery and sharp objects left behind after a mining operation closes. Even expert swimmers will encounter trouble in the dangerous and deceptively cold waters.
“We want people to stay safe and be aware that rivers, pools, lakes and disused quarries are not recreation grounds and there are no lifeguards coming to the rescue if you get into difficulty.”
Around 400 people drown across in the UK each year and nearly 60 of these are youngsters.
Following the tragedy at blue lagoon, to the rear of the Crooked House pub, the site was drained to be used for landfill but there are many pools, rivers and canals across Dudley which could become death traps during hot weather.
Incidents of drowning peak during the summer holidays and experts say people who attempt rescues rather than waiting for 999 crews to arrive can make matters worse.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Fire Service said: “Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death among under 16's, particularly during the months of July and August.
“Many who drown often misjudge their own swimming abilities and fail to appreciate the harmful effects that cold water can have on a person’s stamina and strength.
“Every year people risk their own lives and sometimes drown rescuing children in the water.
“There are very few drownings in public swimming pools despite the huge numbers of people who use them, because of the high levels of safety enforced.”