South Yorkshire residents are putting their lives at risk by swimming at ‘death trap’ spots across the county which have been identified by fire chiefs.
Fifty sites, which range from ponds and fishing lakes to canals and flooded quarries, have been identified as popular ‘unofficial’ swimming spots, even though many of them lack safety equipment or warning signs.
Last week a nine year old boy was taken to hospital in a serious condition after he was rescued from the lake at Dearne Valley Park, Barnsley.
Fire crews were called to the park on Pontefract Road, just before 5pm on Wednesday evening after reports the youngster had got into difficulties.
Firefighters, police and two members of the public went into the lake to save the boy and he was given CPR at the scene until paramedics arrived.
He was taken to hospital.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue station manager Darren Perrott, said: “We regularly receive 999 calls in the summer about people getting into difficulty in water, so it’s only a matter of time before someone’s safety is really put at risk unless people listen to our advice.
“It can be tempting to cool off in hot weather, but stick to a swimming pool.
“Hundreds of people drown each year in the UK and places like rivers, lakes or flooded quarries are completely unsuitable for swimming as they hide a number of hidden dangers.”
Fire bosses said there were dozens more open water sites across the county where safety lines and life buoys are in place, but people still disobey danger signs despite repeated warnings from emergency services about the dangers of swimming outdoors.
The service is highlighting the issue after reports of people - often children - regularly swimming in places like flooded quarries this summer.
Its safety officers are to begin working with landowners at each of the sites, calling on them to put safety measures in place.
Fire crews will also familiarise themselves with the sites, to help them get there as quickly as possible in the event they do get called to an emergency.
Fire officers say people should avoid open water such as rivers and lakes because they may not always be aware of the danger it poses.
River flows can be unpredictable and water is often deeper, colder and faster flowing than expected.
The fire service says swimmers can enjoy water more safely in swimming pools or safer, specialist facilities.