One of the main risks is cold-water shock, which can have a dramatic effect on your body, such as causing you to breathe in water, make your muscles weaken, and can even cause your heart to go into abnormal rhythms, ultimately resulting in death.
You also have no idea what’s beneath the surface of the water: there could be unseen currents and reeds, which could pull you under.
There are also simple steps that you can follow if you encounter someone who has fallen into deep water:
- Call 999 straight away and ask to speak to the fire service and ambulance
- The emergency services will need to know where you are. If you do not know the specific location look for landmarks or signs – for example bridges will often have numbers on them which can identify the location
- Never enter the water to try and save someone, even if you are a strong swimmer
- Shout to the person in the water ‘swim to me’. The water can be disorientating and this can give them a focus
- Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags – use them. If they are attached to rope, make sure you have secured or are holding the end of the rope so you can pull them in.